New species of ancient human found in hidden caves

Last updated at 15:50
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Watch Leah's report on the bones scientists think belong to ancient humans.

Bones from what scientists believe could be an ancient, human-like species have been discovered in hidden caves in South Africa.

Researchers have named the species Homo naledi after recovering more than 1,500 pieces of bone belonging to at least 15 ancient individuals.

The scientists exploring the cave had to squeeze through a tiny gap of only 20 centimetres to find the remains, before lowering themselves down a narrow passageway to get to the chamber.

Bones from a new species of ancient human have been discovered in a cave in South Africa. Scientists are calling the species, Homo naledi.AP
A reconstruction of what researchers think the Homo naledi's face might have looked like.

Not certain

The researchers who made the find have not been able to find out how long ago these creatures lived.

They have been named Homo naledi because "Homo" refers to a species who have biological links to humans and "Naledi" means star in Sesotho, a local South African language.

The bones uncovered in the cave were reassembled to form the outline of an ancient skeletonAFP
The bones uncovered in the cave were reassembled to form the outline of an ancient skeleton.

From the early analysis scientists believe they had brains the size of a gorilla and would have been "long-legged", "pinheaded" and "gangly". Males were about five feet tall, females were shorter.

However, some scientists do not believe there is enough evidence, yet, to be able to say for sure that this is definitely a new species.