University Of Alabama Smith Hall

By WVUA 23 Web Writer Dani Witt

Paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Lee Berger spoke at the University of Alabama Monday night.

Berger is internationally known for discovering what is believed to be one of human-kind’s earliest ancestors. Berger presented “Almost Human: The Discovery of Homo Naledi” which is the story of how he uncovered hundreds of fossils representing a new species he named “homo naledi.” He also explained the significance of this discovery.

“I’m here in Alabama to talk about the latest discovery in human origins,” Berger said. “The discovery of homo naledi in South Africa that we announced just last September. It’s the richest discovery of ancient human relatives, discovered in the history of the science on the continent of Africa.”

He is best known for his discovery of the fossils and the excavation of Rising Star, a dolomite cave system about 30 miles outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Because Berger himself couldn’t fit inside the cave housing the fossils, he recruited a courageous team of thin females from around the world to perform the excavations.

Berger holds an adjunct professional position in the department of anthropology at the University of Arkansas. He has conducted numerous expeditions as an explorer for National Geographic and was winner of the Society’s first Research and Exploration Prize in 1997.

“Berger is on the cutting edge of his field and has been in high demand as a speaker around the world,” said Dr. William Bomar, executive director of UA museums. “Just before he lectures at UA, he will be speaking at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C. We are thrilled that UA museums can bring a speaker of this caliber to our campus.”

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