From Human Genesis:
So that leaves intentional burial, not necessarily because burial makes perfect sense but because everything else makes much less sense. After all, it is really hard to imagine why Homo naledi would crawl so far underground to bury their dead. If they did access the cave, they must have been able to use fire well. They must have advanced beyond just making a fire to making functional torches or lamps. The fact that these bodies were deposited over time even suggests that there was a cultural transmission going on: Older Homo naledi must have taught the younger ones where to take dead bodies and how to get into the Dinaledi chamber.
As mentioned above, the intentional burial hypothesis (or “body disposal” as Lee Berger prefers) was met with a lot of resistance. Some objections were really sort of condescending by suggesting that the researchers really hadn’t done a good job. People suggested that they missed “the second opening” to the Dinaledi chamber, which is disrespectful. Other objections were just ignorant. Armchair speculators said, “Maybe they got transported by water into the Dinaledi chamber,” an idea that we really can rule out completely, since there’s no evidence of those kind of deposits in the muck of the cave. Other objections were little more than incredulity – how could something with a brain the size of an orange exhibit such an “advanced” and complicated behavior? Personal incredulity isn’t necessarily a compelling argument, though.
In the end then, it seems that intentional burial, as surprising as it is, is the most likely explanation of how these creatures got in this cave. Until someone comes up with a better explanation that accounts for all of the evidences above, the burial hypothesis will continue to be favored. More.
See also: Biochemist Todd Wood on homo Naledi burials
Homo Naledi: Hawks accuses Shermer of murdering facts
Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife
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