Lee Rogers Berger
Lee Rogers Berger is an American-born South African paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Berger is known not only for his discoveries, but for his public persona in paleoanthropology. He makes hundreds of talks per year, and has had a relationship with National Geographic for many years, appearing in several of their shows. Berger was born in Shawnee Mission, Kansas in 1965, but was raised outside of Sylvania, Georgia in the United States, as a youth, Berger was active in the Boy Scouts, Future Farmers of America, and president of Georgia 4-H. In 1984, Berger was named Georgias Youth Conservationist of the Year for his work in conserving the threatened gopher tortoise and he is a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and received the Boy Scouts of America Honor Medal for saving a life in 1987. He graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1989 with a degree in anthropology/archaeology, in 1991, he began his long term work at the Gladysvale site. This marked the year that his team discovered the first early hominin remains from the site.
In 1993, he was appointed to the position of officer in the Paleo-Anthropology Research Unit at Wits. He became a research fellow and research officer at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1995. He has been the leader of the Palaeoanthropology Research Group and has taken charge of fossil hominin excavations, including Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, in 2004, he was promoted to Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science. He is presently a professor in the same topic at the Evolutionary Studies Institute. Berger served as Executive Officer of the Palaeo-Anthropological Scientific Trust from 1994 to 2001, Berger served on the committee for successful application for World Heritage Site Status for the UNESCO Sterkfontein, Swartkans and Environs site. He served on the Makapansgat site development committee, as well as the committee for both Makapansgat and Taungs application for World Heritage site status and he was a founding Trustee of the Jane Goodall Trust South Africa.
Berger served with the Royal Society of South Africa, Northern Branch and he served on the Fulbright Commission, South Africa, chairing it in 2005, and chairing its Program Review Committee from 2002 to 2004. Berger is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, Berger was lead author of a controversial report of the discovery of what he and colleagues claimed were small-bodied humans in Palau, Micronesia in 2006. Fitzpatrick, Greg C. and ad hominem assault, and brings little new data to bear on the question of body size, john Hawks, the paleoanthropologist who edited the original Palau article for PLoS ONE, has replied in part to some of the dissenting researchers claims. In August 2008, 9-year-old Matthew Berger, the son of Lee Rogers Berger, found a clavicle, subsequent excavation, headed by Berger, led to the discovery of numerous bones nearby that dated back nearly two million years. The finding was particularly promising because it revealed a previously unknown transitional species between the more ape-like australopithecines and the more human-like Homo habilis
Megantereon was a genus of prehistoric machairodontine saber-toothed cat that lived in North America and Africa. It may have been the ancestor of Smilodon, Fossil fragments have been found in Africa and North America. The oldest confirmed records of Megantereon are known from the Pliocene of North America and are dated to about 4.5 million years. About 3-3.5 million years ago, it is recorded from Africa. In Europe the oldest remains are known from Les Etouaries, a site which is now dated to less than 2.5 million years old, therefore, a North American origin of Megantereon has been suggested. However, recent findings of fossils from Kenya and Chad. If these identifications are right, they would represent the oldest Megantereon fossils in the world, the new findings therefore indicate an origin of Megantereon in the Late Miocene of Africa. Therefore, the number of species may be less than the full list of described species reproduced below. Megantereon cultridens Megantereon ekidoit Werdelin & Lewis,2000 Megantereon hesperus Megantereon inexpectatus Teilhard de Chardin,1939 Megantereon microta Zhu et.
al, the youngest remains of Megantereon from east Africa are about 1.5 million years old. In southern Africa, the genus is recorded from Elandsfontein, a site dated to around 700, 000-400,000 years old, remains from Untermaßfeld show that Megantereon lived until 900,000 years ago in Europe. In Asia, it may have survived until 500,000 years ago, the only full skeleton was found in Senéze, France. Megantereon was built like a modern jaguar, but somewhat heavier. It had stocky forelimbs with the half of these forelimbs lion-sized. It had large neck muscles designed to deliver a powerful shearing bite, the elongated upper canines were protected by flanges at the mandible. Mauricio Antons reconstruction in The Big Cats and their Fossil Relatives depicts the full specimen found at Seneze in France as 72 centimetres at the shoulder, the largest specimens, with an estimated body weight of 90–150 kilograms, are known from India. Medium-sized species of Megantereon are known other parts of Eurasia. The smallest species from Africa and the lower Pleistocene of Europe have been estimated to only 60–70 kilograms, these estimations were obtained from comparisons of the carnassial teeth.
Younger estimations, which are based on the skeleton, lead to body weights of about 100 kilograms for the smaller specimens
Australopithecus sediba is a species of Australopithecus of the early Pleistocene, identified based on fossil remains dated to about 2 million years ago. The fossils were found together at the bottom of the Malapa Cave, where they fell to their death. Over 220 fragments from the species have recovered to date. MH1 is disarticulated and 34% complete if skeletal elements known to be in a block are included while MH2 is 45. 6% complete. Australopithecus sediba may have lived in savannas but ate fruit and other foods from the similar to modern-day savanna chimpanzees. The conditions in which the individuals were buried and fossilized were extraordinary, the first specimen of A. sediba was found by paleoanthropologist Lee Bergers nine-year-old son, Matthew, on August 15,2008. While exploring near his fathers dig site in the hills north of Johannesburg, on the Malapa Nature Reserve. The boy alerted his father to the find, who could not believe what he saw — a hominid clavicle, upon turning the block over, sticking out of the back of the rock was a mandible with a tooth, a canine, sticking out.
And I almost died, he recalled, the fossil turned out to belong to a 4 ft 2 in juvenile male, whose skull was discovered in March 2009 by Bergers team. The find was announced to the public on April 8,2010, found at the Malapa archeological site were a variety of animal fossils, including saber-toothed cats and antelopes. Berger and geologist Paul Dirks speculated that the animals might have fallen into a deep 100–150-foot death-trap, the bodies may have been swept into a pool of water with a sandy bottom and rich with lime, allowing the remains to become fossilized. The fossil was dated using a combination of palaeomagnetism and uranium-lead dating which showed that the fossils are no older than ~2.0 Ma, the presence of animal species which became extinct at ~1.5 Ma indicates the deposit is no younger than 1.5 Ma. The sediments have a normal polarity and the only major period between 2.0 and 1.5 Ma when this occurred is the Olduvai sub-Chron between 1.95 and 1.78 Ma. Accordingly, the fossils were dated to ~1.95 Ma.
Recent dating of a capping flowstone demonstrated this was not possible, the cusp spacing is more like Australopithecus. The femur and tibia are fragmentary, but the foot combines an advanced anklebone combined with a primitive heel and its cranial capacity is estimated at around 420–450 cm3, about one-third that of modern humans. A. sediba had a modern hand, whose precision grip suggests it might have been another tool-making Australopithecus. Evidence of the precision gripping and stone tool production can be seen from Homo-like features such as having a long thumb, the nearly complete wrist and hand of an adult female from Malapa, South Africa presents Australopithecus-like features, such as a strong flexor apparatus associated with arboreal locomotion
Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is a paleoanthropological site about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, the site currently occupies 47,000 hectares, the registered name of the site in the list of World Heritage Sites is Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa. The Sterkfontein Caves contain the discovery of a 2. 3-million-year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus, found in 1947 by Robert Broom, 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 hominid species ever found in Africa. The name Cradle of Humankind reflects the fact that the site has produced a number of hominin fossils ever found. In 1935, Robert Broom found the first ape-man fossils at Sterkfontein, in 1938, a young schoolboy, Gert Terrblanche, brought Raymond Dart fragments of a skull from nearby Kromdraai which were identified as Paranthropus robustus.
Also in 1938, a single tooth was found at the Coopers site between Kromdraai and Sterkfontein. In 1948, the Camp-Peabody Expedition from the United States worked at Bolts Farm and Gladysvale looking for fossil hominids, in 1948, Robert Broom identified the first hominid remains from Swartkrans cave. Brain began working at sites in the Cradle, including Coopers Cave and he soon would initiate his three-decade work at Swartkrans cave, it would result in the recovery of the second-largest sample of hominid remains from the Cradle. The oldest controlled use of fire by Homo erectus was discovered at Swartkrans. In 1966, Phillip Tobias began his excavations of Sterkfontein which are continuing and are the longest continuously running fossil excavations in the world. In 1994, Andre Keyser discovered fossil hominids at the site of Drimolen, in 1997, Kevin Kuykendall and Colin Menter of the University of the Witwatersrand found two fossil hominid teeth at the site of Gondolin. Also in 1997, the near-complete Australopithecus skeleton of Little Foot, in 2001, Steve Churchill of Duke University and Lee Berger found early modern human remains at Plovers Lake.
Also in 2001, the first hominid fossils and stone tools were discovered in-situ at Coopers, in 2008, Lee Berger discovered the partial remains of two hominids in the Malapa Fossil Site that lived between 1.78 and 1.95 million years ago. Cavers Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker discovered hominid fossils in an unexplored area of the Rising Star/Westminster Cave System assigned site designation UW-101. In November 2013, Lee Berger led a joint expedition of the University of the Witwatersrand, the site is still in the process of being dated. In the last days of the Rising Star Expedition, cavers Rick Hunter, preliminary excavations at this site, designated UW-102, have begun and yielded complete hominid fossil material of its own. It is unknown what the relationship of sites 101 and 102 is, hominids may have lived all over Africa, but their remains are found only at sites where conditions allowed for the formation and preservation of fossils
The Oldowan, sometimes spelled Olduwan, is the earliest widespread stone tool archaeological industry in prehistory. Oldowan tools were used during the Lower Paleolithic period,2.6 million years ago up until 1.7 million years ago, by ancient hominids across much of Africa, South Asia and this technological industry was followed by the more sophisticated Acheulean industry. The term Oldowan is taken from the site of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, classification of Oldowan tools is still somewhat contentious. Mary Leakey was the first to create a system to classify Oldowan assemblages, the system included choppers and pounders. However, more recent classifications of Oldowan assemblages have been made that focus primarily on manufacture due to the nature of assuming use from stone artefacts. An example is Isaac et al. s tri-modal categories of Flaked Pieces, Detached Pieces, Pounded Pieces, Oldowan tools are sometimes called pebble tools, so named because the blanks chosen for their production already resemble, in pebble form, the final product.
It is not known for sure which hominin species actually created and used Oldowan tools and its emergence is often associated with the species Australopithecus garhi and its flourishing with early species of Homo such as H. habilis and H. ergaster. Early Homo erectus appears to inherit Oldowan technology and refines it into the Acheulean industry beginning 1.7 million years ago, the oldest known Oldowan tools have been found in Gona and are dated to about 2.6 mya. The use of tools by apes including chimpanzees and orangutans can be used to argue in favour of tool-use as a feature of the hominin family. Tools made from bone, wood, or other materials were therefore in all probability used before the Oldowan. Oldowan stone tools are simply the oldest recognisable tools which have preserved in the archaeological record. There is a flourishing of Oldowan tools in eastern Africa, spreading to southern Africa, at 1.7 mya. the first Acheulean tools appear even as Oldowan assemblages continue to be produced.
Both technologies are found in the same areas, dating to the same time periods. This realisation required a rethinking of old cultural sequences in which the more advanced Acheulean was supposed to have succeeded the Oldowan. Sometime before 1.8 mya Homo erectus had spread outside of Africa, reaching as far east as Java by 1.8 mya, in these newly colonised areas, no Acheulean assemblages have been found. In China, only Mode 1 Oldowan assemblages were produced, while in Indonesia stone tools from this age are unknown, by 1.8 mya early Homo was present in Europe, as shown by the discovery of fossil remains and Oldowan tools in Dmanisi, Georgia. Remains of their activities have excavated in Spain at sites in the Guadix-Baza basin. Most early European sites yield Mode 1 or Oldowan assemblages, the earliest Acheulean sites in Europe only appear around 0.5 mya
University of the Witwatersrand
The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more known as Wits University. The university has its roots in the industry, as do Johannesburg. It was desegregated once again prior to the abolition of apartheid in 1990, several of apartheids most provocative critics, of either European or African descent, were one-time students and graduates of the university. The university has an enrolment of 33,711 students as of 2015,65 percent of the universitys total enrolment is for undergraduate study, with the remaining 35 percent being postgraduate. The university was founded in Kimberley in 1896 as the South African School of Mines, eight years later, in 1904, the school was moved to Johannesburg and renamed the Transvaal Technical Institute. The schools name changed yet again in 1906 to Transvaal University College, in 1908, a new campus of the Transvaal University College was established in Pretoria.
The Johannesburg and Pretoria campuses separated on 17 May 1910, each becoming a separate institution, in 1920, the school was renamed the University College, Johannesburg. Finally, on 1 March 1922, the University College, was granted university status after being incorporated as the University of the Witwatersrand. The Johannesburg municipality donated a site in Milner Park, north-west of Braamfontein, to the new institution as its campus and construction began the same year, on 4 October. True to Hofmeyrs words, from the outset Wits was a university with a policy of non-discrimination on racial or any other grounds. Initially, there were six faculties—Arts, Medicine, Engineering and Commerce—37 departments,73 academic staff, and approximately 1,000 students. In 1923, the university began moving into the new campus, slowly vacating its former premises on Ellof Street for the first completed building in Milner Park, in 1925, the Prince of Wales officially opened Central Block. The universitys first library, housed at the time in what was meant to be a construction, was destroyed in a fire on Christmas Eve in 1931.
Following this, an appeal was made to the public for ₤80,000 to pay for the construction of a new library, and this resulted in the fairly rapid construction of the William Cullen Library, completed in 1935. During this period, as the Great Depression hit South Africa, nonetheless, it continued to grow at an impressive rate. From a total enrolment of 2,544 students in 1939 and this growth led to accommodation problems, which were temporarily resolved by the construction of wood and galvanised-iron huts in the centre of the campus. During World War II, Wits was involved in South Africas war efforts, the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysical Research was placed under the Union of South Africas defence ministry, and was involved in important research into the use of radar
Gauteng, which means place of gold, is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. It was formed part of the old Transvaal Province after South Africas first all-race elections on 27 April 1994. It was initially named Pretoria–Witwatersrand–Vereeniging and was renamed Gauteng in December 1994, situated in the Highveld, Gauteng is the smallest province in South Africa, accounting for only 1. 5% of the land area. Nevertheless, it is highly urbanised, containing the countrys largest city, its capital, Pretoria. As of 2015, it has a population of nearly 13.2 million, the name Gauteng is derived from the Sotho name, gauta meaning gold with the locative suffix -eng. There was a thriving industry in the province following the 1886 discovery of gold in Johannesburg. In Sesotho, the name Gauteng was used for Johannesburg and surrounding areas long before it was adopted in 1994 as the name of a province. Gauteng, formerly known as Pretoria–Witwatersrand–Vereeniging, was carved out of the old Transvaal province in 1994, although the terminology PWV, after the discovery of gold in 1886, the region proceeded to become the single largest gold producer in the world and the city of Johannesburg was founded.
The older city Pretoria was not subject to the same attention, Pretoria grew at a slower rate and was highly regarded due to its role in the Second Boer War. The Cullinan Diamond which is the largest diamond ever mined was mined near Pretoria in a town called Cullinan in the year 1905. Gauteng has only been documented since the 1800s and as a result. At the Sterkfontein caves, some of the oldest fossils of hominids have been discovered, such as Mrs. Ples, the Apartheid Museum stands testament to these struggles in Johannesburg. Gauteng is governed by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, a 73-person unicameral legislature elected by party-list proportional representation. The most recent election of the legislature was held on 7 May 2014, and the African National Congress won 53. 59% of the vote. The official opposition is the Democratic Alliance, which won 30. 78% of the vote and 23 seats, other parties represented are the Economic Freedom Fighters with eight seats and the Freedom Front Plus and the Inkatha Freedom Party with one seat each.
Premier David Makhura of the ANC was elected on 21 May 2014, the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa, which has seats in Pretoria and Johannesburg, is a superior court with general jurisdiction over the province. Johannesburg is home to the Constitutional Court, South Africas highest court, Gautengs southern border is the Vaal River, which separates it from the Free State. It borders on North West to the west, Limpopo to the north, Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border
The archaeological sites of Swartkrans and Kromdraai are in the same area. Sterkfontein is a South African National Heritage Site and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000. The Sterkfontein Caves are home to numerous wild African species including Belonogaster petiolata, numerous early hominin remains have been found at the site over the last few decades. These have been attributed to Australopithecus, early Homo and Paranthropus, modern excavation of the caves began in the late 1890s by limestone miners who noticed the fossils and brought them to the attention of scientists. It was not until 1936 that students of Professor Raymond Dart, in 1936, the Sterkfontein caves yielded the first adult Australopithecine, substantially strengthening Raymond Darts claim that the skull known as the Taung child was a human ancestor. There was a pause in excavation during World War II, in 1947 he found the almost complete skull of an adult female A. africanus. Robert Broom initially named the skull Plesianthropus transvaalensis, but it became known by its nickname.
Mrs Ples is now defined as a member of A. africanus, in 1997, a near complete skeleton of a second species of Australopithecus was found in the caves by Ronald J. Clarke, extraction of the remains from the surrounding breccia is ongoing. The skeleton was named Little Foot, since the first parts found were the bones of a foot, excavations continue to this day and finds now total some 500 hominids, making Sterkfontein one of the richest site in the world for early hominids. The Member 4 deposits containing the Australopithecus africanus fossils have been dated to between 2.6 and 2.0 Ma, with the Sts5 Mrs Ples fossil estimated to date to between 2. 05-2. It is estimated to be around 2. 6-2.2 Ma based on a combination of uranium-lead dating and palaeomagnetic analysis and belongs to a species of australopith. In contrast, surface exposure dating of sediments indicate that skeleton StW573 has an age of approximately 4 million years. While the flowstone dated in the dating has been shown to have formed than the fossil.
The palaeomagnetic analysis remains the most credible age estimate based on the current data as it included work on both sediments and speleothem, a slightly younger deposit dated to between 1.8 to 1.5 Mya has revealed the remains of a specimen of early Homo. StW53 has been described as similar to Homo habilis or as a new species Homo gautengensis. No stone tools were associated with the fossil but StW53 itself has evidence for stone tool cut-marks, Member 5 contains Oldowan and Acheulian stone tools as well as specimens of early Homo and Paranthropus and is dated to between 1.6 and 1.1 Mya. Cradle of Humankind List of caves in South Africa Muldersdrift About Sterkfontein Caves
It is situated within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and is itself a South African National Heritage Site. Gladysvale is the first cave that Robert Broom visited in the Transvaal in his mid-1930s search for a hominid-bearing cave nearer to Johannesburg than Taung and he visited Gladysvale after a butterfly collector from the Transvaal Museum reported a human mandible in the wall of the cave. When Broom arrived at the cave the mandible was gone, sterkfontein soon lured Broom away from the site. In 1946 Phillip Tobias led a student expedition to the site where a fine baboon fossil was recovered, in 1948 Frank Peabody of the Camp-Peabody expedition from the United States spent several weeks at Gladysvale but failed to find any hominid remains. The site was lost from scientific memory until it was re-opened by Lee Berger, within a few weeks of excavation the first hominid remains were discovered – two teeth of Australopithecus africanus. This discovery made Gladysvale the first new hominid site to be discovered in South Africa since 1948.
Many thousands of fossils have been recovered from the Gladysvale deposits including rare remains of hominids, from the Gladysvale external deposits, almost a quarter of a million bones have been recovered since excavations began in 1992. There are many millions of bones still in place in the cave, fossils recovered include antelope, giant zebra, carnivores including extinct wolves and hominids attributed to Australopithecus africanus and early Homo. Tools have found with the most spectacular being an Acheulean handaxe. The site is divided into three underground cave systems with the upper cave holding the Gladysvale Internal Deposits and an External Deposit. Gladysvale was one of the first sites in Africa to be 3-D digitally mapped by Peter Schmid, the Gladysvale sequence has been dated using a combination of biostratigraphy, electron spin resonance and uranium series dating. The youngest deposits are thought to be around 54,000 years old while the oldest deposits that are the source of the Au. africanus fossils are around 2. 4–2.0 million years old.
The Gladysvale External deposits contain extensive faunal remains and date to between 780,000 and 530,000 years ago, an Acheulian handaxe was recovered from internal deposits older than the Bruhnes-Matuyama boundary at 780,000 years. Media related to Gladysvale Cave at Wikimedia Commons The Gladysvale Homepage
Homo naledi is an extinct species of hominin, which anthropologists first described in 2015 and have assigned to the genus Homo. In 2013, fossil skeletons were found in South Africas Gauteng province, in the Rising Star Cave system, as of 10 September 2015, fossils of at least fifteen individuals, amounting to over 1550 specimens, have been excavated from the cave. The skeletal anatomy presents ancestral features known from australopithecines with more recent features associated with hominins, the fossils have not been chronometrically dated, but estimates derived from statistical analysis of cranial traits have yielded a range of 2 million years to 912,000 years before present. The fossils were discovered by recreational cavers Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker in 2013, other experts contend more analyses are needed to support this classification. There are some indications that the individuals may have been placed in the cave near the time of their death. The word naledi means star in the Sotho language and it, and the corresponding name Dinaledi Chamber, were chosen to reference the Rising Star cave system where the fossils were found.
This chute led to a room 30 m underground, the surface of which was littered with fossil bones, before exploring the cave that day, the cavers had been asked by fellow caver and geologist Pedro Boshoff to let him know if they came across any fossils. On October 1,2013, photos were shown to Boshoff who recognized their significance, in total, over 1,550 pieces of bone belonging to at least fifteen individuals have been recovered from the clay-rich sediments. The layered distribution of the bones suggests that they had deposited over a long time. Only one square meter of the chamber has been excavated. Around 300 bone fragments were collected from the surface of the Dinaledi Chamber, the fossils include skulls, ribs, bones of an almost complete foot, of a hand, and of an inner ear. The bones of old and infants were found, the description of the new species was announced at a press conference on September 10,2015 held at Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. A display case of the fossils was unveiled during the ceremony and was subsequently on display to the public at Maropeng throughout September and October 2015, the University of the Witwatersrand is the curator of the fossils.
The skeletal anatomy displays plesiomorphic features found in the australopithecines and more apomorphic features known from hominins, adult males are estimated to have stood around 150 cm tall and weighed around 45 kg, while females would likely have been a little shorter and weighed a little less. An analysis of H. naledis skeleton suggests it stood upright and was bipedal and its hip mechanics, the flared shape of the pelvis are similar to australopithecines, but its legs and ankles are more similar to the genus Homo. The hands of H. naledi appear to have better suited for object manipulation than those of australopithecines. Some of the bones resemble modern human bones, and other bones are more primitive than Australopithecus, the thumb and palm bones are modern-like while the fingers are curved, more australopithecine, and useful for climbing. The shoulders are configured largely like those of australopithecines, the vertebrae are most similar to Pleistocene members of the genus Homo, whereas the ribcage is wide distally like A. afarensis