This was an intriguing story, particularly as it seemed to upset the applecart of evolution by gradual progression, but also by reason nobody in the media thought it was strange that an ape like creature would have buried its dead. Also, why was an ape like hominid still bouncing around 350,000 years ago – long after other hominids had become more human like. Very peculiar. Were the media being polite and giving the scientist in question some respect – or were they just ignorant of the significance of the dates involved. After all, 350,000 years ago is a long time past – and it isn’t easy to get your head around such big numbers.
At https://www.sciencenews.org/article/homo-naledi-dug-cave-graves-carved-marks ….. and the story was at all the well known media outlets, broadcast and newspaper, and blog. The astounding thing is that Naledi was an ape – or ape like, possibly a transitional species or early hominid, yet we are told it lived just 350,000 years ago – during the era of Homo Neanderthals amd the Denisovans. If it was an ape that would not matter – but if it was a hominid that is strange. The gist of the story is that scientists have been rummaging around in the sediment on the floor of a cave in southern Africa and they claim they have found evidence that Naledi buried its dead – in the sediment, and made marks on the walls of connecting corridors. Not only that they have determined a date for this – 160,000 years ago. Presumably by dating the sediment, layer by layer, they have arrived at an estimated date for the bones. The underground chambers are difficult to access, for a full size hominid – but not for the smaller Naledi. As an ape he was able to climb and dangle dangerously where hominids could not go. Obviously, back in the day there may have been an easier route into the cave system – but this is not neccessarily required. In a catastrophist model of the past the remains of Homo Naledi could have been been washed into the inner cave system by a tsunami like wave of water. The bones could have originally been nearer the entrance to the system, or even a live animal outside the caves. Water, when agitated enough, can percolate into the smallest of holes – bringing with it all kinds of debris from wood to bones, usually broken and disarticulated as a result of the violence of the water flow. In other words, it would have left a lot of sediment on the floor of the cave – and that is the sediment that came up with the date. There may have been a succession of watery incursions, or floods. In that scenario Naledi may be much older than the dates currently assigned to the species, between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago. One may note 160,000 years ago is somewhat later in any case, which means the numbers being touted by the media might not be quite correct. They may not comply with the dates of the researchers. Assuming the bodies were buried in the sediment, why does that mean they were purposely buried? Further, we are also told the bones were disarticulated – and not found together [although they may have been situated fairly close]. The researchers say the disarticulation of the bones came about as a result of becoming detached, over time, as the sediment dried out. A rather complicated explanation when moving water would be somewhat simpler. Not only that, marks were found on the walls of corridors connecting the various cave chambers. We are told Naledi must have had access to a sharp instrument in order to scratch or engrave a hard rock surface. However, striation marks by moving water might also explain that as well as moving water would have included rubble and rocks that would have bounced and struck the connecting corridors as it was forced through a narrow hole, or holes. In addition, the researchers say the marks were not found near the body or bodies in a chamber but in a connecting corridor and therefore may have nothing to do with Naledi, in any case. It all sounds a bit speculative – but not totally unreasonable. Unlikely, perhaps. Access to the full article would be useful.
One cannot help but think that if archaeologists, and othr scientists, knew a bit about catastrophic events, real or imagined, they might sometimes come to different conclusions. Perhaps they came up with this published explanation, in order to get others in the field of cave research, to look at it and come up with a more adequate answer. The problem here is that cave systems are routinely excavated and explored and catastrophism is ignored. Most British cave systems were discovered in the 19th and early 20th centuries and what was found was subject to the prevailing mind set, which at the time was gradual unifomitarian evolution. Animals were found in great heaps but they were all said to have died over a long time, falling through holes in the cave roof, or inhabiting the caves, even though the variety of animal bones included herbivores and carnivores. It is simply not consensus thinking. That is all that can be said. One day it might change.