W5 Reflection Post

In my mind, the discovery titled “A New Human Relative” is the best discovery of 2015. While archeologists are not yet able to date the remains of this newly discovered homo nadeli species, it is assumed to be about 2.5 million years old. This, as well as its characteristics, lead some archeologists and scientists to believe that the species may be the missing link between Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) and early humans (Homo habilis). What I find very interesting is that something scientists have searched for for many years was accidentally stumbled upon by a lucky caver in Johannesburg.

This find was an unintentional discovery that very well could be a missing link in the evolution of human beings. Amateur cavers came across what they identified as human remains and called up paleoanthropologist Lee Berger in the area to excavate them. The scientists that went into the cave system uncovered over 1,500 individual structures, which they determined were bones from more than 15 individuals.

Homo naledi, the name given to this newly uncovered new species, is unique in its abilities. The orange-sized brain allows scientists to assume that this was not of the intellectual status that homo sapiens are today, while other characteristics like its hands and feet gave even more clues. The hands were clearly able to hold and work with objects, and the feet show that homo naledi walked upright. However, its shoulders and fingers were structured for climbing use.  Scientists are shocked at homo naledi’s combination of modern and primitive characteristics.

By simply seeing the title, my interest was peaked by the discovery of the oldest pretzel remains in the world. This article, titled “World’s Oldest Pretzel,” discussed the rarity of baked good finds. Archeologists in Regensburg, Germany came across carbonized pieces of pretzels dating back to the eighteenth-century. Thanks to what was out likely the actions of an inattentive baker, these burned remains were thrown into a toilet area and were able to be uncovered centuries later.

This may be slightly ignorant, but I have to admit that I was mostly surprised about the information that some of these scientists were able to uncover through burial analysis. The analyses of previously discovered bodies at Jamestown, in “Jamestown’s VIPs,” tell the stories of four respected leaders during the late 1500’s. Archeologists were able to determine who was a religious figure by the burial method. Most surprisingly was their ability to determine who was of a higher status based solely on their bones’ lead content, which is caused by the fancy drinking devices aristocrats used.

2 thoughts on “W5 Reflection Post

  1. Like you explained, it is fascinating that archaeologists area able to understand so much about the history of these people from small portions of remains. I also found it interesting that the pretzel was preserved so well and that archaeologists were still able to identify it. But what I think is the most surprising and interesting aspect of the “New Relative” discovery is that it was merely by chance. I have noticed in many great archaeological studies, ordinary people are the first to come across them such as the ice man and this new find as well. It just makes me wonder what sort of discoveries we have missed purely due to chance.

  2. I also picked the ‘The New Human’ article as my favorite article. I would like to know more about the human evolutionary chain and it really grabs my attention. I would like to know just how similar human’s ancestors were to us today. When did we become the conscience beings we are today? I also think that just the size of the brain is not always the best judgement of intelligence. Even so, it does seem like this species is somewhere right in between a human and an ape. I would have to agree that I was a little skeptical of the Jamestown burial article; but, I did not find the pretzel article quite as interesting though.

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