Billionaire sends remnants of ancient human ancestors into space: archaeologists frightened by the stunt

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
Traveling to the upper atmosphere would have been completely incomprehensible to ancient humans. Source: OBOZREVATEL/Getty

South African-born billionaire Timothy Nash took with him on a trip to the edge of space fragmentary remains of human relatives - Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi, which during the flight were in his pocket in a cigar-shaped container. It is claimed that this was done for the sake of popularizing science and to honor the contribution of ancient humans to the development of mankind, but archaeologists say they are frightened by such a prank.

About it tells the publication LiveScience. Nash's flight took place on September 8, when the Virgin Galactic plane took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

As noted, Nash himself does not own the fossils, but received them thanks to National Geographic Society researcher and director of the Center for the Study of Human Deep Travel at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, Lee Berger, who was instrumental in the discovery of both species of ancient humans.

Berger, commenting on Nash's decision, said that "the journey of these fossils into space epitomizes humanity's gratitude for the contributions of all of humanity's ancestors and our long-ago relatives" to evolution.

That said, other scientists are concerned and frightened by such negligence toward important historical remains. In particular, they appeal to the fact that such a journey to the upper atmosphere would have been completely incomprehensible for ancient people.

Thus, biological anthropologist Alessio Veneziano in the social network X (formerly known as Twitter) outlined the main problems of such a solution. According to him, there is no scientific justification for flying the remains of the most ancient humans to the edge of space. In addition, such actions raise ethical issues related to respect for the remains of human ancestors.

He is also concerned about Berger's access to fossils that few other researchers have. It also accuses the scientist of "distorting the practice of paleoanthropology."

As the publication notes, Berger's permit request, which was approved by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), noted that the purpose of the trip was to promote science and global recognition of research on human origins in South Africa. That is, the scientist himself did not even pretend that such an action had any scientific purpose.

In turn, Justin Walsh, a professor of art and archaeology at Chapman University in the United States, said that space archaeologists are certainly interested in studying the effects of the space environment on objects in space, "but I don't think we would use a piece of heritage from Earth as a test sample" to see what happens to it.

"I'm terrified that they got permission," wrote Sonya Zakrzewska, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

She noted that such actions by scientists are the best example of unethical approaches and most definitely not science.


Earlier OBOZREVATEL told about the fact that in China discovered the skull of a previously unknown species of man.

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