Lee Berger: Paleoanthropologist
It is no exaggeration to say that paleoanthropologist Lee Berger’s 2013 discovery of Homo naledi signaled a profound shift in our understanding of human evolution. In a secret chamber of the remote Rising Star cave system near Johannesburg, South Africa, a massive collection of bones was discovered by his explorers assisted by recreational cavers. So he rapidly assembled a team of “underground astronauts” with caving experience, scientific backgrounds, and the kind of physique that could fit in a chute averaging 7.9 inches in width. What they found suggested something unprecedented—ritual burial, a practice long thought to be unique to Homo sapiens. And that was just the beginning.