This was a unique find since most fossils of early human ancestors are found in East or South Africa and Chad is in central Africa. australopithecus robustus was most likely the longest surviving species of australopithecine in South Africa. Back in the open air the tour at Sterkfontein passes a bronze bust of the famous palaeoanthropologist Robert Broom and along a series of annotated walkways past excavation sites and lookout points providing an overview of the Cradle of Humankind landscape. The site provides the first evidence of the domestication and use of fire, between 1.8 and 1.0 million years ago, a critical evolutionary landmark. Its kind were first discovered in East Africa. Our team of in-house natural history and archeology experts are some of those who have studied these fossils. Further details of the photos in the slideshow are provided below. DNA analysis shows that modern humans spread out of Africa perhaps 60,000 to 40,000 years ago and replaced the last, now ‘dead branches’ of the family tree in Europe and Asia. Hominids – the ancestors of modern humans – first emerged about seven million years ago, in Africa. “These fossils are evidence of our common origins and the research and knowledge thereof must transcend institutional, national and even disciplinary boundaries so that they mark a path to a collective future defined by human solidarity. Science should have no boundaries and our collective knowledge must be made available,” says Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University. Ocean crossings are needed to explain how lemurs and hippos got to Madagascar, or how monkeys and rodents crossed from Africa to South America," says Longrich. Motsetse: Site with well-preserved fauna, including a sabre-toothed cat. Today the quarrying has ceased and the site is being excavated and explored more systematically for its scientific values. African World Heritage, Nairobi, Kenya, Fortified Towns of the Trans-Sahara Trading routes. An international team of scientists, including one from the University of Washington, has announced the discovery of additional remains of a new human species, Homo naledi, in a series of caves northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. The Guide is based on displays at the National Museum of Kenya (Nairobi) and includes a narrative on human evolution; photos of 19 key hominin fossils; artists impressions of four human ancestors; a map of hominin fossil locations; a diagrammatic representation of the human family tree; and 'interest boxes' on stone tools and methods of dating fossils. Fossils of our distant mammal-like ancestors, which lived more than 200-million years ago, have also been found in South Africa. It also has a range of flora and fauna fossils, as well as stone artefacts. This chapter also deals with the importance of fossils and is a good chance to highlight the significant role that Africa and particularly South Africa has played in documenting the history of life on Earth, and the important fossils which have been found in South Africa. The National Geographic Society partnership will help tell the story by providing photographs, maps, illustrations, graphics and videos of the historic discoveries. Early Homo spread out of Africa about 2-million years ago. Thanks to palaeontologists and sometimes others who’ve made accidental discoveries, dinosaur fossils have been discovered and studied for hundreds of years, much to humans’ great interest and fascination. Paranthropus (which means ‘parallel to human’) evolved specialised teeth jaws and jaw muscles to be able to grind hard foods such as roots, berries and seeds. None of these came from Africa, but rather from North America, Europe, China and Australia. Here's a list of the 10 most important African dinosaurs, ranging from Aardonyx to … The country is famous for its Table Mountain, Kruger National Park, Cape Town, among other interest things. Homo. Remains of other early species of Australopithecus have been found in East Africa. The finding cements the importance of South Africa in human evolution, says Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, UK. All rights reserved. No one is quite sure why, but very few ornithopods--the family of plant-eating dinosaurs … The Cradle of Humankind is an area in South Africa where many fossils , tools, and other traces of early humans have been found. Mesosaurus was a small crocodile-like animal that lived 300 million years ago. In South Africa, Colbert discovered the remains of the Lystrosaurus, a primitive therapsid (a mammal-like reptile) Further Reading: About Edwin Colbert. “As humans, we are innately compelled to explore and understand our origins, and this exhibition provides an extraordinary and historic opportunity to come face-to-face with two newly discovered species of our ancient human relatives,” said Dr. Linda Silver, Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer of the Perot Museum. The guided tour of the cave complex takes in a number of cave chambers and narrow crawl spaces, passes active underground exploration sites and provides an opportunity to see fossilised bones embedded in the natural 'cave breccia'. “The fossils featured in ORIGINS have never been displayed outside South Africa – and probably never will be again. Fossil sulfur-eating microbes from about 3.4 billion years ago have also been found there as well. The study of fossils and DNA suggests that our family tree begins with an ape species that lived between about 8-million and 7-million years ago. Grand Canyon, US. The partial skeletons the team found "have a combination of features that we have not seen before," says Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist and director of the human-origins program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. Comments and Impressions:  This is by far the most accessible of Africa’s fossil hominid sites, close to the urban centres of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and a major international airport. The two most common hominid ancestors found in the area of South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind are Paranthropus robustus and Australopithecus africanus. Other notable early ancestors are the 6-million-year-old Orrorin tugenensis (dubbed the ‘Millenium Man’, from Kenya) and the 5.8-million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus kaddaba, found in Ethiopia. The smaller group, the herbivores, were very primitive and the only similar fossils to theirs have been found in Russia. Here there is another superb exhibit hall, shop and restuarant complex, and guided tours into the caves. Two hominid teeth, much fauna and plant remains up to 3-million years old. The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension to the site inscribed in 1999, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found. Further details on the fossils’ journey from South Africa to Dallas can be found at: perotmuseum.org/press. These immediate ancestors looked like us and were fully ‘human’. Compared to several other countries, South Africa is a young country, having become a Republic only in 1961. It includes a number of caves and dig sites at 13 separate locations within an undulating landscape of low hills along a dolomitic limestone ridge. Although it is only one of several sites in Africa which deserve the accolade ‘Cradle of Humankind’, no other site provides such a rich visitor experience. Recently, one of the most exciting finds has been Antetonitrus, a 210-million-year-old sauropod. The main exhibition hall has a bewildering array of interactive educational displays, including of course, life-size models of our human ancestors, based on the fossil finds around the site. biostratigraphy. The region is called the Cradle of Humankind because some of the earliest ancestors of modern humans were born there. Prehistoric Poo. ORIGINS: FOSSILS FROM THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND will bring to life years of scientific research tied to the Perot Museum’s recently launched Center for the Exploration of the Human Journey, a global hub for education, communication and research in the study of human origins. Kromdraai:  The first specimen of Paranthropus robustus was discovered at this site in 1938, in an area dated to at least 1.95-million years ago. A construction project in Grahamstown, South Africa has turned up a collection of fossils dating back 360 million years, some of which represent previously unknown species. Two new hominin fossils have been found in a previously uninvestigated chamber in the Sterkfontein Caves, just North West of Johannesburg in South Africa. Thus far, there is agreement that all hominids found outside Africa are members of which genus? South Africa is the largest nation in Southern Africa and the world’s 25th largest country by land mass. 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The University of Witwatersrand (Wits University), the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the U.S. and the National Geographic Society have partnered to bring the rare fossils of two recently discovered ancient human relatives (Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi) to the U.S. for the first, and likely only, time to be featured in the limited-run exhibition – ORIGINS: FOSSILS FROM THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Australopithecus is “ Lucy,” a remarkably preserved fossilized skeleton from Ethiopia that has been dated to 3.2 mya. Makapans Valley: Wealth of animal and hominid fossils stretching back more than 3-million years. Cryolophosaurus › Heterodontosaurus South Africa. All Rights Reserved. Unlike many global publications, for nearly a decade we have been committed to showing a complete picture of Africa – not just a single story. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing other world heritage sites around Africa. Homo habilis, which is represented by fossils from about 2-million years ago, was considered to be the first known species to be able to make stone tools. The oldest known Homo erectus and Paranthropus robustus fossils have been found in a hilltop cave and a new study details a critical period of hominin evolution showing that two million years ago “three different human-like species lived side-by-side in South Africa”. To the side of the main exhibition hall is a room of genuine (non-hominid) fossils from around the world heritage site, including remarkably complete skulls of animals such as the sabre-toothed cat that lived alongside our hominid ancestors. Lystrosaurus, numerous fossils of which have been discovered in the Karoo Basin (Wikimedia Commons). FOSSIL FINDS AT EACH OF THE EXCAVATION SITES WITHIN THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE, Sterkfontein:  One of the world’s richest hominid sites. African dinosaurs from these time periods include Coelophysis, Dracovenator, Melanorosaurus, Massospondylus, Euskelosaurus, Heterodontosaurus, Abrictosaurus, and Lesothosaurus. Sterkfontein, South Africa: Robert Broom and John T. Robinson: Ditsong National Museum of Natural History STS 52: 2.61 - 2.07 Australopithecus africanus: 1947 Sterkfontein, South Africa: Robert Broom: Ditsong National Museum of Natural History UR 501 (Uraha jawbone) 2.40±0.10 Homo rudolfensis: 1991 Malawi: Tyson Msiska, Timothy Bromage, Friedemann Schrenk Anabisetia. Together, these two remarkable discoveries provide further compelling evidence for the complex and nuanced processes of human evolution. Gondolin:  Many fossils, including an enormous molar tooth of Paranthropus robustus. The South African National Roads Agency, who was overseeing the construction, made the announcement in June 2016 after the fossils had been carefully excavated from other rock which was being cut with explosives. This species is thought to have given rise to the contemporary African apes (Chimpanzees, Bonobo and Gorillas) as well as ourselves, our common ancestor. Most paleoanthropologists believe that this human ancestor arose in East Africa, where several younger Homo erectus fossils—as well as the likely remains of older Homo species—have been found. The discovery represents a single snapshot in time, so it's unclear if the individuals the team found rep… They literally reveal how the world we recognise today to… However, in spite of all the difficulties, South Africans have contributed immensely to the development of the world in the fields of literature, philosophy, science and fine arts. Notable finds include specimens of Paranthropus, Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus robustus, as well as numerous stone and bone tools. Homo erectus probably gave rise to other evolutionary dead-ends in Europe and Asia including Homo heidelbergensis (which lived from 600,000 to 300,000 years ago) and its evolutionary successor Homo neanderhalensis (which lived from about 200,000 to 20,000 years ago). The most famous of these is "Lucy," a 2.8 million-year ... Fossils belonging to the species Homo erectus have been found in Africa … The Perot Museum is honored to host the exclusive exhibition of these significant specimens and thrilled to have our scientists involved in their actual discovery.” Middle Stone Age deposits with artefacts have been excavated recently, Wonder cave:  No hominids but a diversity of other fauna including baboon. Match each species of pre-australopithecine to the appropriate map showing where its fossil remains have been found. Sterkfontein Caves The immense Sterkfontein Cavesystem is one of the richest fossil sites in the world, and is credited with providing over a third of the early hominid fossils found across the globe, prior to 2010. Leaving the Maropeng Visitor Centre, the next few photos give an overview of the rolling countryside landscapes in this dolomitic limestone area, before showing details of the Sterkfontein Caves (which are owned by the University of the Witwatersrand). Australopithecus afarensis _____ is the species of robust australopithecine that has been found in South Africa. If you are interested in telling stories in an impactful way to shine a spotlight on a particular issue, please email us. “Today’s announcement represents years of work by so many dedicated scientists and demonstrates a remarkable collaboration between the Perot Museum, Wits University, National Geographic Society, and numerous government and cultural entities within South Africa,” said Berger. The presence of Glossopteris was used as supporting evidence for the revolutionary theory of “continental drift” during the mid 20th century. Found in the Ladybrand District of the Free State, the fossil dates from the very beginning of the dinosaur age and sheds light on the evolution of our planet as well as that of these great lizards. That way, you’ll get a strong sense of ‘context’, understanding how this place is situated within the wider contemporary landscape. Announced during Nelson Mandela Day celebrations, Wits University confirmed that South Africa’s national treasures, Homo naledi and Australopithecus sediba, will be on public display in a ground-breaking exhibition in Dallas, Texas, over a five-month period beginning in October. Australopithecus is an important hominid - human ancestor - that demonstrates the transition from ape-like features to human ones. Nodosaur fossil Known as a nodosaur, this 110 million-year-old, armored plant-eater is the best-preserved fossil of its kind ever found. The Wits University partnership will increase research, cultivate scientific communication and maximize accessibility around the world through projects that strengthen international scientific and academic cooperation. The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension to the site inscribed in 1999, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found. Download this 14-page guide to the key hominin fossils found across the continent, and the story of human origins and evolution. Usno Formation: Pliocene – Early Pleistocene: Africa: Ethiopia: West Coast Fossil Park: Terminal Miocene/Early Pliocene: Africa: South Africa: Yengema cave: Neolithic: Africa: Sierra Leone: Hominin tools This fossil was clearly more ancient than earlier finds and anatomist Raymond Dart, who first analysed it, claimed it was a human ancestor. It is magnificently presented for public access and education, with state-of-the-art interpretation. The slide show includes close-up photos of some of the exhibits on display, including the skull of the Taung Child (the type specimen of Australopithecus africanus), photos of 'Little Foot' (the most complete hominid skeleton known), a variety of other hominid skulls and stone tools. Swartkrans:  Paranthropus robustus, Homo ergaster, baboons, leopards, sabre-toothed cats, hyenas and antelope. Part of the site was probably a leopard lair. Few fossils have been unearthed from the last days of the dinosaurs, between 100 and 66 million years ago, on the continent. But by about 1-million years ago, Paranthropus was extinct. Hundreds of Massospondylus fossils have been collected across southern Africa, ranging in size from baby to adult. The importance of the area was discovered accidentally, as a result of fossil finds during limestone quarrying. Australopithecus robustus. John Hawks, the University of Wisconsin. The world heritage property has provided an extraordinary wealth of fossils and other evidence tracing the evolution of humankind from our earliest hominid ancestors, over a period of 3.3 million years. Taung:  The Taung skull fossil site is where the ‘Taung Child’, the type specimen of Australopithecus africanus was found in 1924. Imagine a world 67 million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth. 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