The cradle of human kind– so called because a large number of hominid fossils dating back millions of years have been found there. Nowhere else has such a large amount of hominid fossils been found in one area and this has led scientists to the conclusion that this part of Africa could very well be the birthing place of the human ancestry.
The cradle of human kind is a stretch of land which is 45,000 hectors in size and situated Northwest of Johannesburg. It has been pronounced by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and being that it is very likely where the ancestors of human beings came from- rightfully so!
Here is a list of a few of the caves where hominid fossils have been found:
? Wonder cave
? Cooper’s cave
? Haasgat cave
? Minaar’s cave
A number of lime stone caves forms the Sterkfontein caves. Even though the caves are not the only caves in the Cradle of Humankind which has hominid fossils, it is home to a majority of them. Lime stone miners as early back as the 1890s stumbled upon some fossils. It was at that time that Robert Broom started excavating and came the first documented discovery-the year was 1935. In the year 1938 another discovery was made, but this time it was made by a young school boy who found the fossils near another area called Kromdraai.
To date over 500 hominid fossils have been found at Sterkfontein and over 9 000 stone tools. The two most significant finds at the Cradle of Humankind have been:
? Mrs Ples – Found in 1947 by Robert Bloom. Mrs Ples is an Australopithecus Africanus and is 2.5 million years old.
? Little foot- Found in 1995 by Ronald Clarke and Phillip Tobias. The first pieces found were foot bones but later almost all pieces of the skeleton was excavated. This was dated at over 4 million years old.
90 000 animal skeletal remains such as the sabre-tooth tiger, and forest monkey’s have also found in other areas at the Cradle of Humankind. As you can see this area is an archaeologists treasure chest.
The cradle of human kind today
Visited by thousands of tourists every year the Cradle of Humankind also has a 3000 hector Nature Reserve on it. The Nature Reserve is home to all kinds of fauna and flora, with 250 bird species and 36 species of animals. The tourism board make every effort to keep the delicate balance between nature and man.
This is why game drives and nature walks have become such a popular attraction at the cradle. With a number of restaurants and hotels at the Cradle of Humankind you are privy to a rich experience which is not offered anywhere else in the world! Where else can you take a tour of caves and see some of the oldest fossils in the morning, go on a game drive in the afternoon (or night), do a spot of shopping at craft shops and sleep in the African bushveld? The Cradle of Humankind offers something for everyone, why not pay Mrs. Ples a visit?