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Sterkfontein - Fossil Hominid Sites

South AfricaGauteng & JohannesburgJohannesburg


Sterkfontein - Fossil Hominid Sites 

The Taung Skull Fossil Site, which was added to the site in 1999, is where the famous Taung Skull — a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was discovered in 1924. Makapan Valley, which is also part of the site, contains indications of human presence and evolution stretching back 3.3 million years in its many ancient caves.

The area holds crucial aspects that determine humanity's beginnings and evolution. Fossils discovered there have allowed the identification of various early hominid species, most notably Paranthropus, ranging from between 4.5 million and 2.5 million years ago, as well as evidence of the domestication of fire between 1.8 million and 1 million years ago.

Dolomitic limestone ridges with rocky outcrops and valley grasslands, forested along watercourses and in regions of natural springs, make up the undulating environment that contains the fossil hominid sites of South Africa. The majority of the locations are in caves or are near rocky outcroppings or water sources. The Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs, as well as the Makapan Valley and Taung Skull Fossil Site, are included in the serial listing.

The Taung Skull is a specimen of Australopithecus Africanus found in a limestone quarry at Dart Pinnacle, among several archaeological and palaeontological sites south-west of the Sterkfontein Valley area.

These sites have accumulated a wealth of scientific data about the evolution of modern humans over the last 3.5 million years. They are a massive repository of scientific data with immense potential.

All of the essential connected and interdependent parts in the palaeontological interactions are contained within the sites' deposits. A sequence of fossil mammals, micro- mammals, and invertebrates, which date back to the Pliocene and predate the hominid period of habitation, give a window into faunal evolution, palaeobiology, and palaeoecology. This record has become critical in increasing our understanding of human evolution and the emergence of contemporary human behavior.

The fossil evidence found at these locations indicates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Africa is the uncontested Cradle of Humankind.

The Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa were named a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999.

(Source UNESCO)


  • South AfricaGauteng & JohannesburgJohannesburg

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