After months of anticipation, the section of hominin top jaw is finally recovered from the cave. (Photo by Lee Berger)

By Becca Peixotto

Today, our fourth day underground, we had a special guest in the command center.

Young Stefan from a school here in South Africa got to be a paleoanthropologist for a day and by watching the video monitors and speaking to us via the phone-style voice comms system guided Marina and me through recovering the 151st numbered specimen from this round of excavation.

We did not get to meet this promising scientist-in-the-making in person but could certainly sense his excitement about doing paleoscience when we talked with him over the intercom from down in the chamber. Thanks, Stefan for your help today!

State of the Excavation
At the end of the day today, the Puzzle Box area looks very different from the November photos.

The time spent planning and discussing on Monday was invaluable but excavations like those here at Rising Star are dynamic events and no plan on a project like this ever set in stone.

We accomplished our initial goal of recovering the maxilla (the part of a skull containing the upper teeth) and long bone that have been calling out to us since their initial uncovering four months ago.

This long bone was one of the earliest pieces to be uncovered, but its size and orientation prevented easy removal throught out the November dig because with each bit revealed, other bones were found on top or adjacent to it.

In the process, of finally accomplishing this goal, we also made new finds that prompt us to change our plans and create new goals for the rest if out time here this week.

The fossil record in this area of the site we call UW-101 is rich and fascinating. I look forward to whatever discoveries tomorrow may bring.

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