Review: Cave of Bones: A True Story of Discovery, Adventure, and Human Origins

I recently listened to the ‘Cave of Bones’ episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind–a chat with paleoanthropologist Lee Berger all about his discoveries in a cave system in South Africa–and what it might mean to the history of human kind.

Interesting enough premise and hey, he has a book!

In a nutshell (spoilers! but … it’s non-fiction?), Berger claims to have found fossil evidence of Homo naledi, a cousin of modern human kind that lived some quarter million years ago. With a much smaller brain and similar jaw, the should have been rather primitive, but based on their findings, they appears like they may very well have been anything but.

In full, they claim evidence of intentional burial practices (predating the previously earliest known among Neanderthals 100,000-300,000 years ago), cooking with fire (this reaches much further back, but is unique to modern ‘Homo’ cousins), and even possibly cave art (blowing away records of 40,000 years ago).

Quite the claims…

I’ll leave it to you to listen to the podcast above (or read the book) to decide what you think about that. I think it’s a lot of interesting evidence–but it would also shake up our understanding of the time period and early humanity significantly.

An interesting read. And worth checking out some of the opposing opinions!