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Cradle Of Humankind And Caves Tour

Country: South Africa
City: Johannesburg
Duration: 6 Hour(s) - 0 Minute(s)
Tour Category: Family Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99

Package Itinerary

From your hotel or residence in Johannesburg or Pretoria, your local guide will give you a quick pre-departure tour briefing before departing to the Cradle of Humankind.

You will enjoy a guided tour in the Sterkfontein caves, recently made famous in the discovery of the Homo Naledi Fossils and a number of other significant fossils and artifacts.

After visiting the Sterkfontein caves, your guide will take you on a short drive to the Maropeng Visitors center for a wonderful journey through the development of the human race. Enjoy a relaxing indoor boat ride and experience the interactive museum artifacts and displays.

Explore More:

Sterkfontein is a set of limestone caves of special interest to paleo-anthropologists located in Gauteng province, about 40 kilometers (25 mi) northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Muldersdrift area close to the town of Krugersdorp. The archaeological sites of Swartkrans and Kromdraai are in the same area.

Sterkfontein is a South African National Heritage Site and was also declared a World Heritage Site in 2000. The area in which it is situated is known as the Cradle of Humankind.The Sterkfontein Caves are also home to numerous wild African species including, a wasp species of which there is a large nesting presence.

Modern excavation of the caves began in the late 1890s by limestone miners who noticed the fossils and brought them to the attention of scientists.

In 1936, students of Professor Raymond Dart and Dr. Robert Broom from the University of the Witwatersrand began concerted excavations. The caves yielded the first adult Australopithecine, substantially strengthening Dart's claim that the skull known as the Taung Child (an Australopithecus africanus) was a human ancestor. There was a pause in excavation during World War II, but after the war, Dr. Robert Broom continued excavations. In 1947, he found a nearly complete skull of an adult female (STS 5) A. Africanus (or possibly that of an adolescent male). Broom initially named the skull Plesianthropus transvaalensis (near-man from Transvaal), but it became better known by its nickname, Mrs. Ples. Mrs. Ples is now defined as a member of A. Africanus.

In 1997, a nearly complete skeleton of a second species of Australopithecus (StW 573) was found in the caves by Ronald J. Clarke; extraction of the remains from the surrounding breccia is ongoing. The skeleton was named Little Foot, since the first parts found (in 1995, in storage) were the bones of afoot. Excavations continue to this day and find now total of some 500 hominids, making Sterkfontein one of the richest sites in the world for early hominids. The Palaeo-Anthropology Scientific Trust (PAST), a non-profit trust fund established in 1993, sponsors over 90% of the research undertaken at Sterkfontein and was instrumental in its nomination as a World Heritage Site.

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