June 17, 2024

Ancient Human Burials Featured on Netflix Doc Spark Scientific Controversy

Homo star, a small primitive relative of our species may have been buried dead and their graves marked with etchings on cave walls, according to a recent group of papers by the species’ discoverers, University of the Witwatersrand paleoanthropologist Lee Berger and his colleagues. There’s even a Netflix documentary recreating the story Homo star funeral rites.

However, other scientists are skeptical that the evidence actually shows burial rather than just erosion covering bodies with sediment. There is no doubt that these fossils and this site are important; The debate is about what the fossils tell us about the small hominins – and how certain we can be based on the available evidence.

A general view of “NEO” fossil results of a new skeleton of the species Homo Naledi Hominin is seen at the cradle of Mankind in Maropeng near Johannesburg on May 9, 2017 in South Africa.

GULSHAN Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Shallow Graves in a Deep Cave?

Berger and his colleagues’ announcement in 2015 that they had discovered a new species of hominin sparked controversy – the discovery of a new species is another matter. enormous demand. And although Homo star it looked like much more ancient human relatives, dating suggests that the species had walked the plains of South Africa at the same time as our own species, about 300,000 years ago.

From the beginning, Berger’s The approach to sharing his discovery was unusual. And Berger and his colleagues have made a more extraordinary claim about it Homo star In the past eight years: That these little brain dead people had deliberately carried their dead into the Rising Star Cave System, used fire to light their way, and recently buried their dead in shallow pits and then carved marks on the nearby cave walls.

Other paleoanthropologists say that’s a pretty high conclusion based on the available evidence, but Berger and his colleagues stand their ground.

An artist’s reconstruction of what Homo star maybe it seemed.

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Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

The latest claims, that Homo star that the dead were not only carried into the caves, but then buried in shallow graves in the dark, were first published in a series of preprints: research papers that scientists have finished writing, but have not been reviewed by other scientists or published by a journal. Usually, before scientific research is published, a group of scientists who were not involved in the work read the paper and examine the evidence. Peer review is part of how scientists check each other’s work instead of taking each other’s word for it.

The papers are now under review at an open access journal called eLifeand the four anonymous reviewers — other paleoanthropologists who were asked by the journal’s editors to review the article based on their expertise in studying hominin fossils — are very skeptical about whether the evidence actually suggests it. Homo star digging graves deep underground.

“While I acknowledge the importance of investigating intentional burials in Homo naledi, I do not think the evidence presented in this study is as strong as it should be at this point,” said anonymous Reviewer #2.

the critics particular concern range from not including a diagram of bone placement to not accounting for erosion as a possible explanation for the location of the bones in the caves. In the end, it all comes down to consensus even though there is no evidence that it is Homo star the dead were not buried, there is also not enough evidence to say for sure that they are did. Also, where Berger was completely open with his data in 2015, the reviewers say he and his colleagues left some key evidence out of the paper entirely this time.

A number of other paleoanthropologists, not involved in Rising Star’s work or the review process, have also chimed in, and are mostly skeptical—not of the idea. Homo star could have buried their dead, but because of the idea that we can be sure Homo star bury their dead.

Meanwhile, Berger and his colleagues responded to reviewers – which you can look at the paper eLife page — and planning to make some revisions to the paper, including more evidence. In his comments to the press, Berger is much less reserved. One thing is clear: the debate is just beginning, and instead of years of slow exchanges of competing journal articles, we will be able to see it play out in real time.

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