Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999

The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. This site currently occupies 47,000 hectares (180 sq mi) and it contains a complex of limestone caves.

The Sterkfontein Caves contain the discovery of a 2.3-million-year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed “Mrs. Ples”), found in 1947 by Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. The find helped corroborate the 1924 discovery of the juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull, “Taung Child”, by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continue.

Nearby the site, but not in the site, the Rising Star Cave system contains the Dinaledi Chamber (chamber of stars) in which were discovered fifteen fossil skeletons of an extinct species of hominin, provisionally named Homo naledi.

Sterkfontein alone has produced more than a third of early hominid fossils ever found prior to 2010 The Dinaledi Chamber contains over 1500 H. naledi fossils, the most extensive discovery of a single hominid species ever found in Africa.

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