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The oldest cemetery in the world was not created by our species

The oldest cemetery in the world was not created by our species

The custom of burying the dead was not created by our species (Homo sapiens). Paleontologists have found the remains of hominins of this species Homo nalediFrom the Stone Age, buried at a depth of about 30 meters in the oldest cemetery discovered so far, in the Cradle of Humanity caves in South Africa.​

The custom of burying the dead is older than the species Homo sapiens

  • Researchers have discovered that the oldest cemetery in the world, located in South Africa, was not created by our species;
  • Hominin remains of this type Homo naledi Dating back to at least 200,000 BC suggests that the custom of burying the dead came much earlier than we thought;
  • Furthermore, these species had brains the size of an orange – which contradicts the idea that complex activities, such as burying the dead, only emerged as larger brains evolved;
  • The discovery must still undergo peer review. Articles about it were published in eLife.
The oldest cemetery in the world is located in South Africa (Photo: Luca Sola/AFP)

You H. Naledi They had brains the size of an orange and were about a meter and a half tall – which contradicts the current idea that complex activities (such as burying the dead) only emerged thanks to the evolution of larger brains throughout human evolution.

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Ancient cemetery could change what we know about human evolution

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The discovery could change what we know about human evolution (Image: laikavoyaj/Shutterstock)

In a series of articles published in eLifeThe researchers point out that the remains found in South Africa date back to at least 200,000 years BC, and describe them as “the oldest hominin burials ever recorded, predating burial evidence from the Paleolithic.” Homo sapiens In at least 100 thousand years.”

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Evidence may demonstrate that funerary practices were not limited to hominins with large brains e.g H. sane. “This means not only that humans are not alone in developing symbolic practices, but that they may not have invented such behaviors,” said Lee Berger, the paleontologist who led the explorations. France Press agency (AFP).

The find still must undergo peer review to confirm the hypothesis of intentional burial. But, the researchers write, the findings already represent a major step forward in “changing our understanding of human evolution.”