'Underground astronaut' shares Homo naledi experience


11 September 2015 - Underground astronaut shares experience

STERKFONTEIN – In 2013, Wits paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger posted an odd Facebook message. 

He was looking for petite cavers who could drop everything immediately to join his team in South Africa.

Their mission was to remove the Homo naledi fossils from a remote cave chamber. 

Within a few days he had almost 100 applications from around the world. 

Lindsay Hunter was one of the six women he chose for the elite team. 

She knew the mission into the Rising Star cave would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Within a month of hearing of the project, she&39;d left her life in the United States. She had the research skills to remove delicate fossils, and was small enough to squeeze through a hole just 18cm in diameter.

The mission was so dangerous that the team of six women cavers was dubbed the "underground astronauts".

Most scientists will never be able to reach the cave’s chamber. The cave entrance was so tiny, one of the male cavers who found the chamber had to dislocate his shoulder to squeeze through.

Watch the full story in the gallery above.