‘Underground astronauts’ keep finding fossils at Rising Star dig

2013-11-14 00:00

“WE knew this was an extraordinary hominid fossil find, but we never expected such a breathtaking discovery. The cave is an absolute fossil treasure trove,” said Professor Lee Berger, who leads the dig at the Rising Star cave complex at the Cradle of Humankind.

Experts are cataloguing, photographing, and examining the fossils in a tent marked “Science”. Their excitement mounted when they realised that the bones came from more than one individual. “You realise you all have handled more fossils today than most paleontologists handle in their entire careers,” Steve Churchill of Duke University told the team of six young “underground astronauts”, as the team of petite women have been nicknamed. They were chosen because they can fit into the narrow, winding cave.

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