The Hand of Homo Naledi

Nat Commun. 2015 Oct 6;6:8431. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9431.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Fossils*
  • Gorilla gorilla / anatomy & histology
  • Hand / anatomy & histology
  • Hand Bones / anatomy & histology*
  • Hominidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Neanderthals / anatomy & histology
  • Pan paniscus / anatomy & histology
  • Pan troglodytes / anatomy & histology
  • Thumb / anatomy & histology*
  • Wrist / anatomy & histology*