Published: Aug. 30, 2023

Jamie Hodgkins, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is one of four scientists who voiced concerns about the research behind the recent, popular Netflix documentary Cave of Bones. In the documentary high-profile researchers say small-brained Homo naledi exhibited advanced behaviors such as burials. But the peer-reviewers of the paper making those claims called the supporting evidence “inadequate,” in an assessment that sits alongside the paper in the open-access journal eLife. This is serving as a high-profile test of eLife’s new publishing model - in which it no longer formally accepts papers but instead publishes them alongside peer reviewers’ reports. “I want to understand how the H. naledi fossils got there. They are very important fossils, and critical to understanding human evolution,” says Hodgkins. However, “there just wasn’t any science in the paper ultimately”.

Sharp criticism of controversial ancient-human claims tests eLife’s revamped peer-review model
Nature, July 25