Maropeng opens Paranthropus in Context exhibition

  • December 05, 2008

The new Paranthropus in Context exhibition, featuring original hominid and animal fossils, opened to the public today, Saturday December 6, 2008.

The exhibition highlights fossils of both Paranthropus and early Homo – what scientists believe to be our direct ancestors – which co-existed in the Cradle of Humankind about 2-million years ago.

“We are very excited about the new exhibition. I think the Paranthropus fossils will really open people’s eyes. We want to do more of this type of fossil display to make it more accessible to the public,” said Maropeng Managing Director Tony Rubin.

The flat-faced Paranthropus existed in South and East Africa from about 2.5-million to 1-million years ago. Its large jaws and teeth were adapted to grinding tough food such as roots, hard seeds and berries.

The exhibition also showcases burnt bone material that proved that the first evidence of controlled use of fire in Southern Africa was at Swartkrans, in the Cradle of Humankind about 1-million years ago, as well as bone tools that either or both of these species may have made.

The exhibition was shown to selected members of the media on Friday December 5, 2008.

“This exhibition is very important. Not many of these fossils ever make their way out of vaults. In my personal opinion, this type of exhibition needs to happen more often,” said Dr Bernhard Zipfel, the Wits University Collections Curator.

The general public will be able to view these magnificent original fossil specimens up close, thanks to generous loans from the Transvaal Museum part of the Northern Flagship Institution and the Bernard Price Institute, University of the Witwatersrand.

The exhibition runs from December 6, 2008 to March 6, 2009.

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