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In total, more than 1,550 pieces of bone belonging to at least fifteen individuals have been recovered from the clay-rich sediments.Although much of the fossil material is disarticulated (separated at joints), the deposit contains articulated or near-articulated examples such as the maxilla and mandible of single individuals and the bones of a nearly complete hand and foot.In 2013, fossil skeletons were found in the Gauteng province of South Africa, in the Rising Star Cave system, part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site about 50 km (31 mi) northwest of Johannesburg.The species is characterised by a body mass and stature similar to small-bodied human populations, a smaller endocranial volume similar to Australopithecus, and a skull shape similar to early Homo species.The overall anatomical structure of the species has prompted the investigating scientists to classify the species within the genus Homo, rather than within the genus Australopithecus. naledi skeletons indicate that the origins of the genus Homo were complex and may be polyphyletic (hybrid), and that the species may have evolved separately in different parts of Africa. naledi head was made by measuring the bones of the head, the eye sockets, and where the jaw muscles insert to the skull.

Adult males are estimated to have stood around 150 cm (5 ft) tall and weighed around 45 kg (100 lb), while females would likely have been a little shorter and weighed a little less. naledi Some of the bones resemble modern human bones, but other bones are more primitive than Australopithecus, an early ancestor of humans.The thumb, wrist, and palm bones are modern-like while the fingers are curved, more australopithecine, and useful for climbing.The shoulders are configured largely like those of australopithecines.The ability of such a small-brained hominin to survive for so long in the midst of more advanced members of Homo will require a revision of previous conceptions of human evolution. White observed that the significance of this discovery would be unknown until dating had been completed and additional anatomical comparison with previously known fossils has been done.

He had stated that "it's hard to know without a date whether it's from that period, as one of those experiments that then went nowhere, or whether it's in fact much less than one million years old.The skeletal anatomy presents ancestral features known from australopithecines with more recent features associated with later hominins.As of 10 September 2015 Homo naledi was formally described in September 2015 by a 47-member international team of authors led by South African paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand, who proposed the bones represent a new Homo species.The word "naledi" means "star" in the Sotho-Tswana languages.