Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Alumna among 'Underground Astronauts' to Homo naledi cave

The startling discovery in a South African cave announced this week was the result of some very dangerous, underground work. The derring-do - discovery of Homo naledi, a close ancestor of humans - came courtesy of a fossil excavation team that included UGA anthropology alumna Hannah Morris:

Spelunking in a dark, labyrinthine cave is a tough ask at the best of times. Add fossil excavation through an 18-centimetre wide gap into the mix and you have a job that only a handful of people in the world can do.

Enter the underground astronauts.

This all-women crack team of six ‘trowelblazers’ was assembled thanks to an extensive social media campaign. The combination of job requirements was unique: a master’s degree or higher in palaeontology, archeology or an associated field; caving experience; and the ability to fit through an 18-centimetre ‘squeeze’ in the cave in order to reach the Dinaledi Chamber. 

It just so happened that, out of more than 50 applicants, the people most qualified for the job were all young, slender women.

Being a part of such an archeological team is no doubt a dream-come-true for any young explorer and congratulations to the group on such a tremendous contribution to the historical record. We are very proud that Morris was part of this remarkable team - it's a tribute to her and a very high profile salute to our anthropology program. 

Updated: title edited.

Image: Courtesy Eye Witness News South Africa

Support Franklin College

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.