Monge says the features Homo naledi display are not new to paleoanthropologists, but her reading of the paper, which presented this discovery, has her believing that the 50 or so authors believe it's the combination of features that set Homo naledi apart from the other branches of the human ancestral tree that we already know exist.
"A relatively small brain, particular kinds of features of the [teeth]...as well as of being of a particular height..." are a few of the features that distinguish Naledi.
But for Monge, the article has a chink in its armor. An important chink: time.
"This is where I would say that the article as it's been presented in publication today would fall short," she said. "It seems as if they don't have a sense of the time frame in which the fossil inhabited. So we don't know if it's earlier than other members of our lineage that have already been identified, or it's a contemporary with other things that have already been identified. So, without a really, really strong geological context, it's very hard to say really anything about the place of this form in human evolution. Any time you have any fossil that's decontextualized geologically, it's very difficult to say too much about it."