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South African hominin fossils were sent into space and scientists are enraged

By Dipuo Winnie Kgotleng, Director, University of Johannesburg
Robyn Pickering, Senior lecturer, University of Cape Town
When a Virgin Galactic commercial flight soared into space on 8 September 2023, there were two Virgin Galactic pilots, an instructor and three passengers on board – as well as two fossils of ancient prehuman relatives from South Africa. Timothy Nash, a businessman, carried a clavicle belonging to Australopithecus sediba and the thumb bone of a Homo naledi specimen. The fossils’ brief journey – the VSS Unity’s flight lasted just an hour – was organised by palaeontologist Lee Berger, who led the team that discovered and described Homo naledi in 2015. Berger was granted an export permit in July…The Conversation

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