Tiny fossil hunter a rising star

  • December 14, 2016 | Sue Blaine

A doll-sized fossil hunter has emerged from the Rising Star cave complex in the Cradle of Humankind with her own 3D-printed copy of a fossil, says palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger.

(Image: @Trowelblazers)

Berger’s little “colleague” is Fossil Hunter Lottie, one of a set of dolls, each of which has a hobby or occupation aimed at inspiring girls to enjoy their childhood and individuality. The dolls are made to look like nine-year-old girls, and include Muddy Parties Lottie and Stargazer Lottie.

(Image: @Trowelblazers)

Berger is known for several startling discoveries that are changing our understanding of human evolution, examples of which are on display at the Cradle’s official visitor centre, Maropeng.

The Rising Star Expedition, which began in late 2013, saw an astonishing 1 500 fossil elements brought to the surface, according to its official blog. In September 2015 they were identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that Berger and team named Homo naledi.

The Rising Star cave complex was largely excavated by women because of the narrowness of some of its passages. Few men (or women) were slight enough to pass through them.

There is just one Fossil Hunter Lottie that has been into the cave complex and comes with her own 3D-printed Rising Star fossil. She was auctioned off, raising more than $100 for the Raising Horizons project, a collaboration between a group of four women fossil hunters, photographer Leonora Saunders and Prospect, the United Kingdom’s trade union for scientists.

(Image: @Evo_Explorer)

“Lee is a supporter of women in science,” says Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux, France. Wragg Sykes is one of four Trowelblazers, a group of women scientists who aim to promote the often suppressed or forgotten work of women in archaeology, palaeontology and geology.

Raising Horizons is to launch in 2017 with a travelling exhibition, talks and social media promoting women in these so-called earth sciences.

Trowelblazers and its Raising Horizons project aims to challenge stereotypes about women’s contribution to these sciences by photographing modern women scientists in the clothes and with the accoutrements of now former women scientists, such as Mary Anning, who died in 1847. Anning was known around the world for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds.

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