The Rising Star Expedition was rapidly assembled during October 2013 to recover ancient hominid fossils discovered deep in a South African cave.
With more than 1200 identified and cataloged hominid fossil elements already collected, the find could add significantly to our understanding of human evolution.
With the bones hidden 30 meters underground beyond obstacles including a dangerous squeeze only 18 cm wide, it was necessary to assemble a select team of capable researchers with excavation experience and the unlikely caving skills and particular size required to reach the inner chamber. The few who met all these requirements happened to all be women.
Directed by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand, and supported by cavers from the Speleological Exploration Club of South Africa, these researchers spent three weeks bringing up hominid fossils that are now being analyzed by a wider team of experts on the surface.
For an unprecedented view into this rare discovery and the work of processing it all, follow along with updates here and on Twitter: