A true-life scientific adventure story, this thrilling book takes the reader deep into South African caves to discover fossil remains that compel a monumental reframing of the human family tree.
In the summer of 2022, Lee Berger lost 50 pounds in order to wriggle though impossibly small openings in the Rising Star cave complex in South Africa—spaces where his team has been unearthing the remains of Homo naledi, a proto-human likely to have coexisted with Homo sapiens some 250,000 years ago. The lead researcher on the site, still Berger had never made his way into the dark, cramped, dangerous underground spaces where many of the naledi fossils had been found. Now he was ready to do so.
Once inside the cave, Berger made shocking new discoveries that expand our understanding of this early hominid—discoveries that stand to alter our fundamental understanding of what makes us human. So what does it all mean?
Join Berger on the adventure of a lifetime as he explores the Rising Star cave system and begins the complicated process of explaining these extraordinary finds—finds that force a rethinking of human evolution, and discoveries that Berger calls "the Rosetta stone of the human mind."
Lee Berger is an award-winning paleoarchaeologist whose explorations into human origins in Africa over the past 25 years have resulted in the discovery of more hominin fossil remains than any other. He spearheaded the discovery of two new species of ancient human relatives: Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi. A current National Geographic Explorer at Large, Berger won the first National Geographic Society Research and Exploration Prize in 1997. In 2016, he was named the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year and one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. Berger is the Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife and two children.
John Hawks is a paleoanthropologist who has been working with Lee Berger on his expeditions for more than a decade. The Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, he lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife and four children.