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Homo naledi: our “decidedly strange” cousins

An evolutionary discovery creates new puzzles

By Philip Ball  

The skull of Homo naledi "Neo" ©Xinhua/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Ah, families are so complicated. You think you’re clear about who is related to whom, and then a long-lost relative surfaces and it all gets hazy again.

That’s the current situation with the evolutionary family tree of every one of us. The discovery four years ago of a new member of the Homo genus—that means humans, of which Homo sapiens is the only surviving member—created a fresh puzzle in the story of human evolution. And now a new family…

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