South Africa, Sept 14: They would seem tiny and fragile, but what they achieved is beyond anyone's imagination. Science has made a breakthrough and this was possible when they climbed down a 7 centimeter wide tube, explored the dark alleys beneath, fought claustrophobia and found what they wanted-the skeletal remains of a new hominion species-the Homo Naledi.
Discovered in the caves of South Africa, these form an important link to the evolution of human beings.
It all started when palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger learned about the fossils from two other researchers who could not go any further into the tunnel at the Rising Star cave.
Hence, came the advertisement. He wanted six skinny scientists with a background in archaeology or paleontology. But the most challenging part was finding someone, as he says,"without claustrophobic, absolutely fit, with some caving experience, climbing experience would be a bonus."
He remembers thinking that "maybe there were three or four people in the world who would fit that criteria. But within days, there were 60 applicants who fit the list. The six he chose were Marina Elliott from Canada, Elen Feuerriegel from Australia, and K. Lindsay Eaves, Alia Gurtov, Hannah Morris, and Becca Peixotto from the United States.
Marina Elliott was one of them who explained the entire process. Elliot said," There was so much material and it was friable and delicate," Elliott says. "And every day, we realized that we were pulling out another 40 or 60 fragments of this thing that was going to be incredible." She and her team excavated close to 1,500 fragments from 15 different skeletons- a mix of female and males.
Now leading an expedition to other nearby caves, Elliott rightly puts it as,"we are just scratching the surface. The treasure is yet to be found."