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The Cradle of Humankind is a place where every person on the planet is in some way or other, linked. Some of the most important humanoid fossils have been discovered here, including a separate species, and it’s believed to be the place where all humankind originated.
The 47000ha site was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and the visitor centre called Maropeng – meaning to return to the place of our origins in the Setswana language – welcomes visitors to experience this fascinating location. The Maropeng information centre is entered via the Tumulus building, designed to appear as a burial mound, and visitors are first introduced to a working excavation site before being taken through the ‘passage of time’ in terms of human development.
The Cradle of Humankind is roughly an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng Province, South Africa. It was mapped on Google for the world to get a virtual glimpse of what to expect prior to visiting and the well-known ex-Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond recently filmed the first episode of their new TV series The Grand Tour, at the Cradle of Humankind, see Twitter hashtag #TheGrandTourJoburg.
Fossil finds at the Cradle of Humankind include a 2.4million-year old complete female skull, labelled Mrs Ples, at the Sterkfontein caves way back in 1947. Major excavations began in the cave in 1966 and continue today.
The discovery of a new humanoid species at the Rising Star cave was the subject of a National Geographic documentary titled Homo Naledi: Dawn of Humanity. Over 1500 bones were discovered and more are being found as the researchers travel deeper into the cave.
With the amazing finds at these sites, scientists have been able to learn more of human origins, their evolution over time, even the spreading of cancers and other sicknesses.
For anyone wanting to know more about man’s beginnings, the Cradle of Humankind is the authoritative starting point.