The immature Homo naledi ilium from the Lesedi Chamber, Rising Star Cave, South Africa

Zachary Cofran, Caroline VanSickle, Reynaldo Valenzuela, Daniel García-Martínez, Christopher S. Walker, John Hawks, Bernhard Zipfel, Scott A. Williams, Lee R. Berger

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives: Homo naledi is represented by abundant remains from the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system in South Africa. While pelvic elements from the Dinaledi Chamber of the cave are fragmentary, a relatively complete ilium (U.W. 102a–138) was recovered from the Lesedi Chamber. We reconstructed and analyzed the Lesedi ilium, providing qualitative descriptions and quantitative assessment of its morphology and developmental state. Materials and Methods: We compared the Lesedi ilium to remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, other South African hominin fossils, and an ontogenetic series of human ilia. We used the Dinaledi adults as a guide for reconstructing the Lesedi ilium. To assess development of the Lesedi ilium, we compared immature/mature proportional ilium height for fossils and humans. We used 3D geometric morphometrics (GMs) to examine size and shape variation among this sample. Results: The Lesedi ilium showed incipient development of features expressed in adult H. naledi ilia. The proportional height of the Lesedi ilium was within the range of human juveniles between 4–11 years of age. GM analyses showed that the Lesedi ilium had an iliac blade shape similar to those of australopiths and an expanded auricular surface more similar to humans. Conclusions: The reconstructed Lesedi specimen represents the best preserved ilium of H. naledi, confirming the australopith-like iliac blade morphology first hypothesized in adult specimens, and establishing that this anatomy was present early in this species' ontogeny. In contrast to australopiths, the Lesedi ilium displays an enlarged sacroiliac joint, the significance of which requires further investigation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3-17
    Number of pages15
    JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Sep 2022


    • Australopithecus
    • Dinaledi
    • Makapansgat
    • os coxae
    • pelvis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology
    • Genetics
    • Epidemiology
    • Anatomy
    • Archaeology
    • Palaeontology


    Dive into the research topics of 'The immature Homo naledi ilium from the Lesedi Chamber, Rising Star Cave, South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this