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South Africa’s Rich Fossil History

Caves of the Ape-menSouth Africa is a gold mine of paleontological discovery, well-known for being home to some of the oldest fossils in the world. As a result of the discoveries made in the area – such as the remains of “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot” – the Cradle of Humankind site in Maropeng, South Africa was named a world heritage site in 1999.

Bianca Bothma investigates a new display at the Maropeng Visitor Centre titled “Treasures of Our Past”, which offers a glimpse of the vast fossil history of our species, as well as the world’s oldest dinosaur eggs.

To read more about our ancestral heritage, read the recently-published Caves of the Ape-men: South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

From a palaeontological perspective South Africa is one of the most exciting countries to work in, argued Professor Bruce Rubidge, director of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, at the opening of a new fossil display at the Maropeng Visitor Centre recently.

The Treasures of our Past fossil display, opened on December 2, 2010, includes specimens from the Bernard Price Institute and the Institute for Human Evolution, both based at the University of Witwatersrand.

Display items include hominid fossils, the world’s oldest dinosaur eggs, as well as an almost complete skeleton of Tapinocaninus pamelae, considered the oldest land-living reptile and weighing close to one ton.

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