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An American-born South African paleoanthropologist, Lee R. Berger is Research Professor in Human Evolution and Public Understanding of Science at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) and an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. He is internationally known for two major discoveries in an area northwest of Johannesburg known as the Cradle of Humankind. After his son found a jawbone embedded in a rock in 2008, he led a series of excavations that unearthed a profusion of bones, including two partial skeletons, both nearly two million years old, at a site he named “Malapa” (“homestead” in the Sesotho language). The fossils showed an odd mixture of primitive and modern traits, and in a series of papers published in Science between 2010 and 2013, Dr. Berger and his co-authors described a new species they called Australopithecus sediba and claimed represented “the most probable ancestor” of modern-day Homo sapiens, a continually debated hypothesis. In 2013, alerted by two spelunkers, he located an underground network of deep caves (given the name “Rising Star”), and two years later, the international team of some sixty scientists he assembled and led announced the discovery of a new species in the human lineage, Homo naledi, based on their analysis of 1,550 fossil elements, the largest sample for any hominin species in a single African site. Because of where the bones lay in a remote and largely inaccessible chamber, the scientists concluded that the bodies of the dead may have been deliberately and repeatedly laid there. Though the age of H. naledi has not been announced, Dr. Berger thinks its primitive anatomy suggests the species may have evolved near the root of the Homo genus. His interest in anthropology dates to his undergraduate years at Georgia Southern University. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in paleoanthropology at Wits in 1994. Staying on as a research officer, then a post-doctoral research fellow, he was named a senior research officer in the anatomy and human biology department in 1996 and in the palaeontology department in 2000. He became a reader in human evolution and the public understanding of science in 2004 and was appointed to his present position in 2013. Dr. Berger was the recipient of the first Prize for Research and Exploration given by the National Geographic Society in 1997 and of the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award in 2012. He was named Rolex’s Explorer of the Year in 2016 and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in the same year. A fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and the South African Academy of Sciences, he has chaired the bi-national Fulbright Commission that administers and oversees the Fulbright Program in South Africa and served on the senior advisory board of the Global Young Academy and as an executive member of the Center of Excellence in PalaeoSciences in South Africa. He is a founder of the Palaeo-Anthropological Scientific Trust in Johannesburg and founded the not-for-profit Lee R. Berger Foundation for Exploration in 2015. In addition to more than one hundred papers published in scientific journals, Dr. Berger is the author of numerous books and popular articles. A forthcoming book, (with John Hawks), Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story, will be published later this year by National Geographic Books. Dr. Berger has contributed to and appeared in many television documentaries.