Fossils challenge dna in the dating game

But the particularly shocking thing is that there isn't other material in this particular chamber that can be used to date these fossils.

That's what leads researchers to believe that these bodies were buried — intentionally placed — in this deep, isolated tomb, 100 meters from the cave's entrance.

One of the first skull fragments was particularly challenging.

It would help reveal the size of the head and the brain of this early human cousin, but getting this fragment up and out without breaking it was daunting.

William Harcourt-Smith, a researcher with the paleontology division of the American Museum of Natural History and a professor of paleoanthropology at Lehman College.

Anthropologist Marina Elliott (left) and paleontologist Ashley Kruger explore a side chamber in the Rising Star cave where more than 1,500 fossil elements of a new species, Homo naledi, were discovered.Berger, who earlier in his career discovered another new species of early human ancestor, , realized that this could be an unprecedented finding.The cave was incredibly hard to access, so Berger and other researchers put out a call on social media.But there was a huge cheer as they emerged into the South African sun.They've excavated almost 1,600 fossils from the cave, but thousands more remain inside, and are still being examined.

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