Find a name for fossil boy and win R75 000!

  • April 12, 2010

South African school children have been offered a wonderful opportunity to win prizes with a total value of R100 000, by finding a name for a recently discovered fossil, believed to be a human ancestor!

If you haven’t heard about this amazing fossil discovery, read on …

In 2008, a young South African boy,  Matthew Berger, and his father were out exploring, in the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg, when Matthew came upon a fossil. He knew it was a fossil because his dad, Lee Berger, a palaeontologist, is an expert in fossil studies, or palaeontology.

Matthew didn’t know it at the time, but scientists announced this week that the remains he found represent an important fossil find, which tells us more about our own development into humans.

Fossils connect us to our past, so we can understand our present. They are the ancient remains of living creatures that once roamed the Earth millions of years ago. When these animals died, their skeletons were covered over by layers of certain types of mud, which helped to preserve these creatures’ remains.

The fossil nine-year-old Matthew found was that of a young male, about his own age, who lived nearly two million years ago!

The remains are those of an early hominid (human-like) species, which had long ape-like arms, short, strong hands and long legs, which suggest that he ran like we do. Its scientific name is Australopithecus sediba, but he needs a proper name, like those of other famous fossils such as “Mrs Ples”, the “Taung Child” and Turkana Boy.

There is R100 000 to be won in this nationwide competition to find a name for the fossil boy. If you come up with the winning name, you will receive R75 000 to pay for your future education and your school will receive R25 000 for better science classes, plus a replica model of the child hominid fossil.

The competition is open to primary and high school pupils in South Africa and runs from April 11 to May 2, 2010.

The name you choose should not be longer than 15 letters in any South African language. You also need to explain by means of a story, motivation, or a poem (in English and in less than 150 words), why you chose that name.

For inspiration, visit the Maropeng Visitor Centre to view the fossils, currently on display until April 18, 2010.

The entry form for the competition may be found here.

Please make sure you read and understand the rules of the competition before entering.

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