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
Dinofelis is a genus of extinct sabre-toothed cats belonging to the tribe Metailurini. They were widespread in Europe, Asia and North America at least 5 million to about 1.2 million years ago, fossils very similar to Dinofelis from Lothagam range back to the Late Miocene, some 8 million years ago. In size they were between a leopard and a lion, most being about the size of a jaguar, medium-sized. The front limbs were particularly robust compared to the modern cats, two specimens were examined by Serge Legendre and Claudia Roth for body mass. The first specimen was estimated to have a weight of 31.4 kg, the second was estimated to have a weight of 87.8 kg. The canine teeth of Dinofelis are longer and more flattened than those of modern cats and nimravids are generally referred to as false saber-tooth cats because of this. While the lower canines are robust, the teeth are not nearly as robust as those of the lion. Based on Dinofelis likely preference of forest habitats, it is believed by ethologist William Allen et al that Dinofelis possessed a spotted or striped coat of fur.
This stout body may implicate a preference for dense or mixed habitats although it may have similar to the extant jaguar with its range from forest to open range including wetland. Dinofelis likely hunted animals including, mammoth calves and old mastodons, Homo habilis, examination of Dinofeliss carbon isotope ratios indicates that Dinofelis at Swartkrans at least, probably were not hominid hunters, preferring to prey on grazing animals instead. Dinofelis fossils and bones have been found in South Africa along with those of the baboons that it possibly killed, bones from several specimens of Dinofelis and baboons were found in a natural trap. Dinofelis may have entered the place to feed on trapped animals or may have wandered into a location and was not able to escape again. It is thought that the disappearance of the forests in which Dinofelis hunted may have contributed to its extinction at the start of the ice age. A list of currently accepted in the genus, Dinofelis aronoki, It lived in Villafranchian and Biharian stage in Kenya.
Dinofelis barlowi, It lived from the Early Pliocene to the late Pleistocene, found in Europe, North America and Asia but mainly in Africa. It was 70 cm high and 1 m long, probably the smallest species of Dinofelis, Dinofelis cristata, It was found in China. Dinofelis darti, It lived in South Africa during the Villafranchian stage, Dinofelis diastemata, Europe Dinofelis paleoonca, North America. Dinofelis petteri, East Africa Dinofelis piveteaui, South Africa Dinofelis sp, Lothagam Dinofelis paleoonca Meade Its type locality is Meades Quarry 11, which is in a Blancan terrestrial horizon in the Blanco Formation of Texas
The Taung Child is the fossilised skull of a young Australopithecus africanus. It was discovered in 1924 by quarrymen working for the Northern Lime Company in Taung, Raymond Dart described it as a new species in the journal Nature in 1925. The Taung skull is in repository at the University of Witwatersrand, dean Falk, a specialist in brain evolution, has called it the most important anthropological fossil of the twentieth century. In the early 20th century, the workers at quarries in southern Africa routinely uncovered fossils from the tufa formations they mined. Many were of extinct fauna, which included baboons and other primates, the director gave it to his son, Pat Izod, who displayed it on the mantle over the fireplace. Josephine Salmons was the first female student of Dart, an anatomist at the University of Witwatersrand, Salmons was permitted to take the fossilised skull and presented it to Dart, who recognised it as a significant find. Dart asked the company to any more interesting fossilised skulls that should be unearthed.
Young sent some of the back to Dart. The paper appeared in the 7 February 1925 issue of the journal Nature, the fossil was soon nicknamed the Taung Child. Scientists were initially reluctant to accept that the Taung Child and the new genus Australopithecus were ancestral to modern humans, in the issue of Nature immediately following the one in which Darts paper was published, several authorities in British paleoanthropology criticized Darts conclusion. Grafton Elliot Smith stated that he needed more evidence – and a picture of the skull – before he could judge the significance of the new fossil. Arthur Smith Woodward dismissed the Taung Child as having little bearing on the issue of whether the ancestors of man are to be sought in Asia or Africa. These critiques became more fervent a few months later, will satisfy geologists that this claim is preposterous. There were several reasons why it took decades for the field to accept Darts claim that Australopithecus africanus was in the line of descent.
For one, the British scientific establishment was at the time enamored with the hoax Piltdown Man, expecting human ancestors to have evolved a large brain very early, they found that the Taung Childs small brain and human-like teeth made it an unlikely ancestor to modern humans. Until the 1940s, most anthropologists believed that humans had evolved in Asia, and despite accepting that modern humans had emerged through evolution, a large number of anthropologists believed that the genus Homo had split from the great apes as much as 30 million years ago. They therefore felt uneasy about accepting that humans had had a small-brained, solly Zuckerman, who had studied anatomy under Raymond Dart in South Africa, concluded as early as 1928 that Australopithecus was little more than an ape. He and a team carried out further studies of the Australopithecine family in the 1940s and 1950s
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is the southernmost country in Africa. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and it is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, the remaining population consists of Africas largest communities of European and multiracial ancestry. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a variety of cultures, languages. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the recognition of 11 official languages. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup détat, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a role in the countrys recent history. The National Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalising previous racial segregation, since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the countrys democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces.
South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation to describe the multicultural diversity. The World Bank classifies South Africa as an economy. Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, and the 34th-largest in the world, in terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa. However and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence. The name South Africa is derived from the geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation the country was named the Union of South Africa in English, since 1961 the long form name in English has been the Republic of South Africa. In Dutch the country was named Republiek van Zuid-Afrika, replaced in 1983 by the Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika, since 1994 the Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages. Mzansi, derived from the Xhosa noun umzantsi meaning south, is a name for South Africa.
South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological and human fossil sites in the world, extensive fossil remains have been recovered from a series of caves in Gauteng Province. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has termed the Cradle of Humankind
Ronald J. Clarke
Ronald J. Clarke is a paleoanthropologist most notable for the discovery of Little Foot, an extraordinarily complete skeleton of Australopithecus, in the Sterkfontein Caves. A more technical description of various aspects of his description of the Australopithecus skeleton was published in the Journal of Quaternary Science and he discovered the Homo ergaster partial cranium SK847. He played a role in the discovery of a new skeleton of Homo habilis related to Homo rudolfensis and he rejoined the University of the Witwatersrands Institute for Human Evolution, where he remains as of present
Members of the human clade, that is, the Hominina, including Homo and those species of the australopithecines that arose after the split from the chimpanzees, are called homininans. Not all homininans are directly related to the emergence of early Homo and this is a modern cladogram, For each clade, the cladogram above shows approximately when newer extant clades emerged. Some texts refer to Homonini as the Hominina branch, the subtribe Hominina is the human branch, that is, it contains only the genus Homo. Researchers proposed the taxon Hominini on the basis that the least similar species of a trichotomy should be separated from the other two. The common chimpanzee and the bonobo of the genus Pan are the closest living relatives to humans. All the extinct genera listed to the right are ancestral to, or offshoots of, both Orrorin and Sahelanthropus existed around the time of the split, and so may be ancestral to both Pan and Homo. In the proposal of Mann and Weiss, the tribe Hominini includes Pan as well as Homo and all bipedal apes are referred to the subtribe Hominina, while Pan is assigned to the subtribe Panina.
Wood discusses the different views of this taxonomy, the assumption of late hybridization was in particular based on the similarity of the X chromosome in humans and chimpanzees, suggesting a divergence as late as some 4 million years ago. Sahelanthropus tchadensis is an extinct species that lived seven million years ago. Human Timeline – Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History
The Pliocene Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era, the Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch.588 to 1.806 million years ago, and is now included in the Pleistocene. As with other geologic periods, the geological strata that define the start and end are well identified but the exact dates of the start. The boundaries defining the Pliocene are not set at an easily identified worldwide event, the upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations. The Pliocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell, the name comes from the Greek words πλεῖον and καινός and means roughly continuation of the recent, referring to the essentially modern marine mollusc faunas. H. W. Fowler called the term a regrettable barbarism, in the official timescale of the ICS, the Pliocene is subdivided into two stages. From youngest to oldest they are, Piacenzian Zanclean The Piacenzian is sometimes referred to as the Late Pliocene, in the system of North American Land Mammal Ages include Hemphillian, and Blancan.
The Blancan extends forward into the Pleistocene, South American Land Mammal Ages include Montehermosan and Uquian. In the Paratethys area the Pliocene contains the Dacian and Romanian stages, as usual in stratigraphy, there are many other regional and local subdivisions in use. In Britain the Pliocene is divided into the stages, Waltonian, Pre-Ludhamian, Thurnian, Bramertonian or Antian, Pre-Pastonian or Baventian and Beestonian. The exact correlations between these stages and the ICS stages is still a matter of detail. The formation of an Arctic ice cap is signaled by a shift in oxygen isotope ratios and ice-rafted cobbles in the North Atlantic. Mid-latitude glaciation was probably underway before the end of the epoch, the global cooling that occurred during the Pliocene may have spurred on the disappearance of forests and the spread of grasslands and savannas. Continents continued to drift, moving from positions possibly as far as 250 km from their present locations to positions only 70 km from their current locations, africas collision with Europe formed the Mediterranean Sea, cutting off the remnants of the Tethys Ocean.
The border between the Miocene and the Pliocene is the time of the Messinian salinity crisis, Sea level changes exposed the land-bridge between Alaska and Asia. Pliocene marine rocks are exposed in the Mediterranean, India. Elsewhere, they are exposed largely near shores, the change to a cooler, seasonal climate had considerable impacts on Pliocene vegetation, reducing tropical species worldwide. Deciduous forests proliferated, coniferous forests and tundra covered much of the north, tropical forests were limited to a tight band around the equator, and in addition to dry savannahs, deserts appeared in Asia and Africa
Andre Werner Keyser, was a South African palaeontologist and geologist noted for his discovery of the Drimolen hominid site and of numerous hominid remains. In 1994 he discovered a female Paranthropus robustus skull, nicknamed Eurydice, in 1997 he found two children’s skulls some 1.5 to 2 million years old. The children were under 3 years old at the time of their death, in 1946 Phillip Tobias recovered a baboon fossil from the site. The 1948 Camp-Peabody expedition from the United States failed to find any hominid remains, the site was forgotten until 1991 when Lee Berger and Andre Keyser started excavations. They soon found two teeth of Australopithecus africanus, making Gladysvale the first new site in South Africa since the 1948 discovery of Swartkrans by Robert Broom. Since the site has yielded more than a quarter of a million fossils in excavations by teams from the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Zurich and Duke University. These fossils include, beside hominids, extinct wolves, giant zebra and monkeys.
”Eldest of 3 sons of Gabriel Keyser and Adelheid Dorothea Giesekke, Andre Keyser was married to Josina/Sienie le Roux and lived in Meyerspark and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. He was a painter, with an influence of the nature of South Africa. His death was due to cancer, Image of Eurydice Image of Eurydice and Orpheus lower jaw
Haasgat is a fossiliferous South African paleocave located in the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Area, approx. 20 kilometres northeast of the sites of Sterkfontein and Swartkrans. 60 kilometres north-northwest of the City of Johannesburg and it is located on private land and is not accessible by the public. The cave system formed on the slope of a narrow. As is the case many of the dolomitic paleocaves in the region. Although this mining obliterated the original entrance and parts of the system. While Haasgat was long known to residents of the Kalkheuvel West region, the site was abandoned after this single phase of sampling and data from the site has rarely been incorporated into studies of South African Plio-Pleistocene fossil record. Since 2010, an international team has initiated a new phase of ex situ and in situ excavation, geological sampling. Subsequent biostratigraphic interpretations of the fauna processed from the ex situ dumpsites produced two different proposed age ranges and this suggests an age between 2.3 and 1.95 Ma for the majority of fossils from the site
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