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Who First Buried the Dead?

Paige Madison: Mourning the dead involves remembering the past and imagining a future in which we too will die — abstractions believed to be complex enough to be contemplated only by our species. The assumption, then, was that death rituals were practiced only by modern humans, or perhaps also by their very closest relatives. The possibility that primitive, small-brained Homo naledi could have engaged in the deliberate disposal of dead bodies not only challenges the timeline about when such behaviours appeared; it disrupts the whole conventional thinking about the distinction between modern humans and earlier species and, by extension, the distinction between us and the rest of nature.

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