Three major scientific discoveries were announced this fall. What a time to be alive.
ALMOST HUMAN: A treasure trove of multi-million year old hominid bones were discovered in a cave in South Africa in 2013. After two years of analysis it appears they may provide clues as to how hominids evolved from three-foot tall almost ape-like Australopithecus of 3.5 million years ago to five foot tall Homo erectus of 1.6 million years ago. The newly discovered Homo Naledi bones are from a family of almost modern Hominids that had only about half our brain capacity. Basically modern human beings with monkey-size brains.
What is also amazing is that Lead Scientist Lee Berger made all evidence available to early career paleoanthropologists and anthropologists instead of locking everything up and using this discovery to enhance his own career as most peers would have done. Publications not only describe what was found but also give equal credit to the young scientists involved. There are
4,600 YR-OLD RECORDS: Piles of ancient readable Papyri were found in an ancient Dry Dock consisting of thirty hidden caves at Wadi Al-Jarf on the Red Sea in 2011. The papyri were abandoned in sealed storage caves when Pharaoh Khufu died.
Finally translated these Papyri list the copper, stones and other supplies received from mines in the Sinai Peninsula then almost 200 miles overland across the desert to Memphis where Khufu's Pyramid was under construction. They were kept by the manager of the dry dock. We now have written evidence of how the pyramids were built, why they were built and who built them.
WATER ON MARS: Water is where life originates and thrives. After multiple space craft flybys and a few landings on Mars we were pretty sure rivers and oceans existed there millions of years ago. It appears certain Mars once was a warm and wet world that could have supported microbial life. Subsurface water has long been thought to still exist. We now know more.
We now know liquid water flows on Mars as seasons change. To date Earth is the only place where we know life exists. We now know it may have existed, or may even exist, on a least one other planet.
I revel in the fact that talented scientists have made amazing discoveries about who we are and how we have evolved while I am alive as a witness.