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Deep in the caves with Homo Naledi & the Rising Star Expedition

More than 1,500 individual bones and teeth of at least 15 skeletons of Homo naledi were excavated by an all-woman “underground astronaut” team during the 2013/14 Rising Star Expedition. Homo naledi is a new species in human lineage that has a combination of features not yet found in the fossil record. Naledi means “star” in Sesotho.

The historic dig took the six scientistsMarina Elliott, Elen Feuerriegel, Alia Gurtov, K. Lindsay Hunter, Hannah Morris, and Becca Peixottodeep into a fossil-filled cave system located northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. Their excitement is palpable in this series of National Geographic expedition videos:

Bonus: Watch Scientists Recover Ancient Hominid Skull From Cave.

What happens when you get these fossils out of the science tent and back to the University of Witwatersrand to be analyzed? More teamwork from a group of over 60 experts: See How Scientists Identified Our New Human Ancestor.

Watch this next: Who was the first human?

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