A nearly complete right hand of an adult hominin was recovered from the Rising Star cave system, South Africa. Based on associated hominin material, the bones of this hand are attributed to Homo naledi. This hand reveals a long, robust thumb and derived wrist morphology that is shared with Neandertals and modern humans, and considered adaptive for intensified manual manipulation. However, the finger bones are longer and more curved than in most australopiths, indicating frequent use of the hand during life for strong grasping during locomotor climbing and suspension. These markedly curved digits in combination with an otherwise human-like wrist and palm indicate a significant degree of climbing, despite the derived nature of many aspects of the hand and other regions of the postcranial skeleton in H. naledi.

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Published in Nature Communications, v. 6, article 8431, p. 1-9, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09560.

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

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We thank the National Geographic Society and the National Research Foundation for particularly significant funding of both the discovery, recovery and analysis of this material. . . . Partial funding for aspects of this research was provided by the European Research Council Starting Grant Number 336301 (T.L.K.), the Max Planck Society (T.L.K.), Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Program (M.W.T.) and Canada Research Chairs Program (M.W.T.).

Related Content

Homo naledi, a New Species of the Genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, Lee R. Berger et al., published in eLife, v. 4, article 09560, p. 1.35, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09560. Available in UKnowledge: http://uknowledge.uky.edu/neurobio_facpub/34/.

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Supplementary Figures 1-8, Supplementary Tables 1-4, Supplementary Note 1 and Supplementary References