"Cave of Bones" scientist Lee Berger talks about extinct apes that buried their dead and created art

Originally published at: "Cave of Bones" scientist Lee Berger talks about extinct apes that buried their dead and created art | Boing Boing


This is presented in a new documentary on Netflix, “Unknown: Cave of Bones”:

The words documentary and Netflix in the same sentence rarely bodes well.

They could have access to CERN, the Kennedy Space Center and Carl Sagan’s personal library and I’d still expect for some weirdo to be given the best part of an hour to explain how his research on Facebook proves everything is down to aliens.


… oh shit are we extinct now

If I was extinct would anybody tell me :monkey_face:

I suppose the Indiana Jones hat is meant to attach some legitimacy to his claims.


The investigative documentary Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? seemed to be reasonably well researched in that it accurately answered the question of whether or not that teenager was able to claim a Harrier jet with Pepsi points back in the ‘90s.


Huh. I can understand the importance of the smaller brain…but aside from that, I would have unhesitatingly used the word “humans” for any species of Homo. I mean, people definitely talk about for instance Neandertal men and women, and of course they are mixed with us a little too. Of course that means something like H. naledi wouldn’t sound like the same datapoint against “human exceptionalism”…but then how much were our extinct relatives supposed to be excluded from that anyway? :confused:


That they found a kid with a tool in his/her hand says a lot. Maybe a grief stricken parent putting it in their child’s hand knowing it was the kids favorite tool, hoping somehow the kid might want it or need it, And now the kid shows us, saying “See I was Loved, they gave me this to keep forever.” Why couldn’t that have been the thought as you give your kid back to the earth?

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Human exceptionalism bothers me a fair bit. There’s a good argument that we should be in genus Pan with our chimpanzee brethren.

To me that seems to me like an overreaction to exceptionalism, trying to ignore the differences that do exist just to deny anything special about us. I think our short wide pelvises, our modified feet, our peculiar chins, our floating hyoid bones, and so on would give plenty of reasons for some alien paleontologist to separate Homo from our sister group Pan – without assuming that separation makes us any more exceptional than Gorilla or Pongo or any of the other non-chimpanzees.

There is a famous letter from Linnaeus saying he knew no real reason to separate Homo from Simia, but that was with him putting chimpanzees, gorillas, even monkeys together. That’s clearly a mistake; however you classify us, we belong nested with the other hominids. But we are an odd species there, the only primates to reach Australia and the Arctic for instance.


And the moon.


Few things are more cringe than an Indiana Jones hat on an archaeologist. Which is why you usually only see it on first year students, this guy and Zahi Hawass.

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Zahi has been sticking his face up front for pretty much every discovery in Egypt. I have a strong suspicion that his colleagues and the diggers wish him to be a buried relic. He’s been halfway there for a while now.

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He knows how to play his political cards well. And maybe he’s good at securing funding? He managed to get followers of Edgar Cayce to pay for a lot of things.

In rough chronological order


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