Cave Fossil Evidence Suggest Homo Naledi Behavior Similar to Our 23-Year-Old Son Who Won’t Move Out

Dr. Mary Stipings1,3 Dr. Todd Stipings2,3 

1 Department of Pop-Cultural Anthropology, Cranberry-Lemon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2 Center for Early Hominin Behavioral Degenerates, Cranberry-Lemon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

3 Gavin’s Parents


A recent excavation of the Falling Star Cave System of South Africa has revealed modern behavior of the extinct hominin species Homo naledi such as smoking cigarettes, eating junk food, trying to get into weightlifting, and playing with weird dolls. In a newly discovered chamber The Basement, new behavior can be inferred from evidence such as cigarette butts, empty junk food bag fragments, artificial flavoring residue, body building magazines and a strange doll in the arms of 250,000-year-old fossil remains of deceased Homo naledi among other trash and junk food evidence. By applying the behavioral model of our 23-year-old son who can’t seem to find a job or a girlfriend, we can deduce that this ancient cousin of Homo Sapiens was extremely messy and only left their dark, dank, and messy rooms once a month when they ran out of Cheez Its or some middle Pleistocene equivalent. If the dating of these artifacts and bones are confirmed, it would be the oldest ever recorded evidence of a slob. Keywords: Homo naledi, Ancient Hominins, Anthropology, Communal Ash Trays, Artificial Flavoring Residue, Principal Component Analysis, Aspiring Body Building, Doll Collections, Junk Food Residue, Couch Potatoes, Cradle of Humanity

1. Introduction

Being a shut in, smoking, and eating garbage junk food was long believed to be primarily a trait shared only between Homo sapiens and Racoons [1]. Even among modern Homo sapiens, the practice is rarely seen outside of children and good for nothing 23-year-old man-children who can’t seem to find a job that ‘clicks’ continuing to live in a state of extended adolescence [2]. Very little is known about this early Homo sapien cousin except that they are a similar, shorter, and more slender extinct hominin species from the Middle Pleistocene period. Through the many bones discovered in the Rising Star Cave system in South Africa since 2013, it is evident that they average a 4’ 8” build at about 88lbs and were capable of tree climbing and endurance running. New evidence even suggests use of tools, fire, and an advance burial ritual. The evidence in this paper suggest they were also expert couch potatoes even rivaling my son Gavin and his friends.1.1 BackgroundThough many of the discoveries have been made in the Rising Star Cave system [3-4], the new bone fragments from the neighboring Falling Star Cave system are more recent and holds even more dramatic conclusions that will make any parent disgusted [5]. There are reasons it’s less prestigious. First off, the Falling Star Cave is an absolute pig stye. There’s junk everywhere and the Homo Naledi who lived there had absolutely no respect for the place. We would like to say that we found some advanced tools and even a spear head, but it’s so disorganized and junky that we can’t make any conclusions whatsoever [6]. We found some of the bone fragments covered in absolute junk, cigarettes, potato chip bags, some lotto tickets, trashed magazines, and some strange plastic dolls. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the Homo Naledi cave habitat and our son who seems to be closely related.

Trash on the ground

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A person sitting on a couch with lots of objects around him

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Figure 1: Side-By Side Comparison of Homo Naledi Chamber and Gavin’s Man Cave

It was a while before anyone even bothered checking out the nearby cave to rising star. The locals knew about it but said to not go in because “it smelled like something crawled up and died in there” [6]. Because the more serious excavations were not allowing the Cranberry-Lemon Anthropology experts in to do a dig in Rising Star, we had to pinch our noses and settle for Falling Star. Luckily, we did find some Homo naledi. According to the reconstruction of the bone fragments found in the Falling Star cave system, these Homo naledi were likely primarily dormant for most of their lives judging by the bone size and density. Through the flattened back of the pelvis, it was quite obvious they spend a significant time on their butts decompressing as my son puts it. 

Through on-going jokes between myself and my husband (the co-author), we realized that the data on the falling star Homo naledi was strikingly similar to our son Gavin and his friends who are even bigger slobs. When we applied a Gavin based model, the artifacts and skeletal analysis began to make much more sense and less like nearby locals contaminating the dig site like we were afraid was happening.

2. Excavation

While the entrance chambers of the falling star cave system are nice and welcoming, they are a clean environment with no evidence of many Homo naledi bones or even fragments. In the Foyer, family dining room, and the kitchen where the inhabitants made an effort to make the cave look nice and presentable, there were hardly any findings apart from the skeletons of small rodents in the kitchen piled neatly and hygienically. Past the living room, a small and cramped shoot was found barely passable by humans. The intrusive columns named ‘The stacks of pizza boxes’ or PB columns, made it a cramped space to infiltrate. Afterwards a tough climb up the Laundry Piles prevented the weak climbers from proceeding. Finally, most could not fit through the Dirty Dish Superman Crawl. After navigating around the pizza boxes, laundry hills and dirty dishes, the pungent smell we were warned about by the locals arrived, so we purchased a high dollar air filtration system and a couple crates of Glade plugin scented air candles to strategically place around the chamber. The entrance of the chamber had even more obstacles and trash we were careful not to remove until properly tagged and documented. The chamber is so messy we named it the Basement as the obstructing rock formations were similar to all of the old furniture, I can’t seem to get rid of now that my son uses it so much. A diagram of the falling star cave schematic is shown below. 

A map of a house

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Figure 2: Falling Star Cave System Map

By doing a 3d scan of the dirt we found several full skeletons of Homo naledi reclining on harder rock formations below softer dirt. Because the skeletons were found with rib cages intact and lying slantways above the hard rock sub strata, it was initially assumed that these were burials as our colleagues believed [3-4]. Upon further excavation, it was found that these bones did not appear to have disturbed sedimentary orange-red mud clasts likely seen in burials. Likewise, the geological strata appeared to form naturally around each specimen strikingly undisturbed. It was obvious they weren’t buried in some ritual; they were just lounging a lot like our son does 13 hours a day. They were all gathered around a pictograph of a hominin like creature fighting an animal etched into the cave wall around their own rock recliners and couches. 

Though many of the wrappers of junk food and decomposed magazines were found next to many of the fragments of hands and to the right side of the slant ways sunken ribcage, mandible and tooth fragments were found around a skull resting on a softer area of a pile of dirt where a prehistoric pillow may have sat. On these tooth fragments and the tips of the fingers we found residue of artificial sweetener and the sort of cheesy dust you get from Cheetos and Mac N Cheese. Many of the front teeth appeared to be nicotine stained. In a singular bowl like vessel in front of the six discovered skeletal groups, about 180 cigarette butts among other smoked material of dubious origins were found. We would like to keep the non-tobacco material off the record because we wouldn’t want the authorities mucking about the chamber and ruining our dig.

Of the six bodies found, we named them after Gavin and his friends that always seem to be down there in our basement; Michael, Trevor, Tom, Will, and Cory. Just like in Gavin’s basement, we were unable to find any females. The list of identifiable bone fragments for each of the specimen can be seen in the table below as well as the discovered concentrate of Nicotine, Cheesy Powder, and Artificial Sweetener from the chemical analysis. If you’re wondering how Tom has so many bones, well, that’s why we named him after Tom? Among all of the artificial flavoring, cheesy flavor was the most popular by a large margin.

Skeletal FragmentsNicotine Residue (mg)Cheesy Powder (mg)Artificial Flavor (mg)
Table 1: Skeletal Completeness for the Basement Homo naledi and other discovered residue near each skeletal system

Each of the six specimens’ chemical makeups as well as the surrounding dirt were sampled slowly as they became unearthed by a crack team of Cranberry-Lemon interns. Because the passage around the pizza boxes were too small for the professors and experienced diggers to wriggle through, each of the intern’s food per diems were slowly decreased until they could fit through and begin the excavation under the watchful gaze of myself and my co-author on a zoom conference call within the chamber.

3. New Artifacts

As shown in the in the figure below, the six specimens were discovered surrounded by new artifacts far more interesting and implicating than something boring like a sharp rock, scorch marks, disturbed laminated orange-red mud clasps or typical things found near pre-historic Hominins [3-4].

Figure 3: The Basement Lidar mapping annotated with location of the six specimen.

After cataloguing the six specimen and their trashy habitat, the below table of discovered trash is compiled.

Junk Food FragmentsMagazinesStrange DollsSmokable Substances
Table 2: Skeletal Completeness for the Basement Homo naledi

3.1 Cigarette Butts and Burns

Though the primary collection of cigarette butts were found in a collective ash tray like stone bowl in between the six Homo naledi specimen, trace elements of ash were discovered surrounding each skeletal collection as well as on a trail between the ash bowl and each of the specimen’s go-to to sitting spots. Speaking from experience, even with highly enforced house or cave rules, these butts, their ash, and burn marks are likely to get everywhere. After a grid search pattern, over eighteen carbon scorch marks were measured suggesting that many of the cigarettes were extinguished on the rocks and not in the designated ash tray. This is consistent with modern day models of adolescent basement smokers who get circular burn patterns everywhere even after threatening to take away their Xbox [7]. 

3.2 Artificial Flavoring Dust

After careful sampling of residue on the fingers and fossilized teeth of the 6th specimen, it appears that this grouping of Homo naledi’s diet consisted of highly caloric artificially flavored food of low nutritional value. This included high concentrations of aspartane, saccharins, and butyric acids were found in each of the residues. It is difficult to determine where these foods were sourced in such primitive living standards. Regardless, analysis of the chemical compounds and carbohydrates were closer associated with modern day junk food than any natural growing substance in the middle Pleistocene. The Aluminum-plastic fragments of potato chip bags adds further evidence against the skeptics [8].

3.3 Body Building Magazines

A principal component analysis of the magazine page fragment material found adjacent to three of the Homo naledi skeletal groupings suggested that a 3% likelihood of being a cooking magazine, 5% chance of being sports related, a 22% chance of other but we all know what that other is, and a 70% chance of being a greater part of a body building magazine. With the prehistoric Homo naledi culture likely being filled with tree climbers and endurance runners, it’s no question that to become an alpha male, additional effort bulking up would be required. Though criticism of the body building hypothesis suggest that the bone density of the discovered skeletal systems point to a less muscular build compared to other Homo species or even nearby Homo naledi finds, my son Gavin will not stop watching cross fit videos on Instagram and I haven’t seen him do a pushup since his 5th grade presidential fitness test. The obsession may be primarily aspirational according to the Gavin model [9].

3.4 Strange Barbie Dolls

The last, most academically controversial and the most concerning find were the strange and half melted barbie dolls found near the skeletal remains. In the arms of the specimens Trever, Will, and Cory were three muddy and half decayed and fossilized Barbie dolls. While some will suspect the use of dolls to prepare younger Homo naledi for parenthood, the specimen found in falling star were gripping dolls which did not resemble infant young. While some would also criticize the fact that all of these specimens were male and likely did not do much of the care taking [10], even if that were a male roll, there was no sign of any female Homo naledi for them to mate with. This had nothing to do with child rearing.

A dirty doll sitting on dirt

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Figure 4: Found Barbie Doll owned by Homo Naledi

By applying the Gavin based modern human model to this new discovery, we suspect that these dolls were something of an unhealthy fascination like my son’s concerningly extensive collection of anime dolls and his wall of Funko Pops. He swears that they’ll be worth something someday, but I doubt they’ll be worth more than my hospital bill after tripping on a pile in the middle of the night. Apparently, he left them out for his Funko Pop review YouTube channel. Like that’s going anywhere.

4. Analysis

After sampling Gavin and his friends while they were all rewatching the new Attack on Titan season, we began to run the numbers through a principal component analysis. We reduced the data by transforming it all into a Laziness, Weirdness, and Physical attribute domain space before applying the PCA as shown in the figure below. Gavin and his friends’ samples are shown in red x’s while the Falling Star Homo naledi are shown in the blue dots.   

A diagram of a graph

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Figure 5: PCA analysis between Homo naledi and Gavin Et al.

As shown in the figure, along the slob-o-metrics developed in [11], these new Homo naledi specimens are remarkably similar to our son. Each of the categories discussed in this paper show a pattern of behavior unheard of in the study of ancient prehistoric humans.

5. Discussion

Imagining my son and his friends as a prehistoric cave dwelling cousin to Homo sapiens makes a lot of sense. No wonder the species died off. If they would ever leave their cave and do something productive with their lives for a change, maybe they would have survived and existed alongside modern humans. It’s clear a culture of laying around smoking and eating junk food is no way for a civilization to thrive or spread the seed of a vast species. 

We took the liberty of extrapolating the lifestyle of these newfound Homo naledi to create a brand new 3d rendering as shown in the figure below. With a poochier gut, more slumped shoulders, and the quintessential cigarettes found in Falling Star, we’re sure this is a much more accurate depiction of what an ancient Homo naledi.

A monkey holding a cigarette

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Figure 6: New 3d Rendering of Homo Naledi

The question begging to be answered is ‘How did the species survive as long as they did with such a non-productive lifestyle?’ Imagining the ancient earth, it’s not like they could waltz into a convenience store and buy enough junk food to sustain on with the meager allowance earned by cleaning their parents’ gutters before going back to the basement to play more Deep Rock Galactic. Additionally, it’s hard to imagine prehistoric Hominin parents would enable such behavior. Without any further evidence, we are obligated to say, it was likely aliens or an advanced precursor race that allowed this behavior and provided the junk food, plastic dolls, and tobacco.

6. Conclusion

It is truly remarkable how much we have in common with these ancient ancestors. Studying these lazy good for nothing Homo naledi puts our own life in perspective and makes me wonder about our own origins. Did the ancient Homo sapiens also have good for nothing sons that single handedly delayed their parents’ retirements by at least ten years? In the cradle of humanity of South Africa, were our ancestors arguing about how unhygienic it was to leave loin clothes around unwashed, attracting rodents adding up to a $473 extermination bill? Or whatever the currency was back then? The evidence now points to yes. It truly is remarkable how similar we are!


  1. Yerbert H. Kermudgen 2016 A Cultural Cross Analysis of Homo Sapiens and the Woodland Racoon :: Journal of Spurious Cultural Correlations
  2. Mary and Todd Stipings 2022 A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Gavin, His Friends and Why He Won’t Seem to Grow Up :: Journal of Soon to be Empty Nesters
  3. Berger, Lee & Makhubela, Tebogo Vincent & Molopyane, Keneiloe & Krüger, Ashley & Randolph-Quinney, Patrick & Elliott, Marina & Peixotto, Becca & Fuentes, Agustín & Tafforeau, Paul & Beyrand, Vincent & Dollman, Kathleen & Jinnah, Zubair & Gillham, Angharad & Broad, Kenneth & Brophy, Juliet & Chinamatira, Gideon & Dirks, Paul & Feuerriegel, Elen & Gurtov, Alia & Hawks, John. (2023). Evidence for deliberate burial of the dead by Homo naledi. 10.7554/eLife.89106. Berger LR, Hawks J, Dirks PH, Elliott M, Roberts EM. Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa. Elife. 2017 May 9;6:e24234. doi: 10.7554/eLife.24234. PMID: 28483041; PMCID: PMC5423770.
  4. Mary and Todd Stipings 2023 12 Signs that Your Son will NEVER be self Suficient :: Journal of What’s Wrong with these Kids
  5. Mary and Todd Stipings 2023 Early Analysis of the Unquestionably Disgraceful Conditions of the Homo Naledi Environment in the Falling Star Cave System :: Cranberry Lemon Excavation Report
  6. Karabo Mabena and Bongani Dlamini 2023 Local Warning to Not Go in that Cave [Falling Star Cave System on account of being so smelly] :: Instagram Post
  7. Mary and Todd Stipings 2023 A Disciplinary Approach to Raising your 23 Year Old Man-Child :: Journal of Perpetual Parenting
  8. Herbert IV Nepo Baby 2023 A Critique of Cranberry Lemon’s Falling Star Analysis :: Annals of Trust Fund Baby Funded Research 
  9. Mary and Todd Stipings 2023 Will Gavin Actually Use the Gym Membership we Gave Him for Christmas? :: Proceedings for the Parental Methodologies Conference Cleveland 2023
  10. Herbert IV Nepo Baby 2023 A Critique of Cranberry Lemon’s Falling Star Analysis Because they Won’t Stop wating my Daddy’s Money :: Annals of Trust Fund Baby Funded Research
  11. Virilius H and the Cosmic Swine [A Jam Band] 2019 Slob-O-Metrics: How to Live your Fullest Basement Life Without Going Too Far :: Journal of Man-Cave-O-Nomics

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Published by B McGraw

B McGraw has lived a long and successful professional life as a software developer and researcher. After completing his BS in spaghetti coding at the department of the dark arts at Cranberry Lemon in 2005 he wasted no time in getting a masters in debugging by print statement in 2008 and obtaining his PhD with research in screwing up repos on Github in 2014. That's when he could finally get paid. In 2018 B McGraw finally made the big step of defaulting on his student loans and began advancing his career by adding his name on other people's research papers after finding one grammatical mistake in the Peer Review process.

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