Fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind – Malapa

  • December 05, 2013

Around 40% of the world's known hominid fossils have been unearthed in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, earning it UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1999.

It is thanks to these fossil sites, in which the dolomitic conditions were just right for fossil preservation, that we have an understanding of humankind’s journey to humanity and the evolutionary trajectory that led us to where we are today.

In this series of blogs we profile a selection of sites within the Cradle and highlight the prominent discoveries made at each of these areas of discovery.

Malapa

The Malapa site valley. Photo by Lee Berger, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The Malapa fossil site captured the world’s attention after the first-ever specimen of Australopithecus sediba was found there in 2008.

Matthew Berger, the nine-year-old son of palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger, was exploring near his father’s dig site when he stumbled (literally) on a piece of bone embedded in some rocks.

The piece of bone was later analysed and identified – it was a hominid clavicle.

To date, the site has yielded over 200 Australopithecus sediba fossil fragments, along with the type specimen Karabo, or MH1.

The site continues to produce hominid fossils, as well the remains of brown hyena, antelope, sabre-toothed cat, wild dog and horse.

The site at Malapa. Photo by Lee Berger, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

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