MAY 2012 MAROPENG INFORMATION

  • May 01, 2012

From the Coopers Cave Picnic to the stargazers, there are various events that will be taking place in May.

May 5: Coopers Cave Picnic and walking tour

How would you like to explore a living museum, where the fossils embedded in the rock describe the world as it was between 1.4- and 1.8-million years ago?

Maropeng and palaeobiologist Dr Christine Steininger are offering budding palaeontologists the rare opportunity to explore the 1.5-million-year-old Cooper’s Cave. Located near the famous Sterkfontein Caves, Cooper’s Cave has yielded numerous fossils of previously unidentified animals, and a rich assembly of stone tools.

The day’s activities include an interactive fossil and site talk, exploring a cave, a chance to look for fossils in recently excavated deposits, and learning how to make stone tools.

You’ll never know what you’ll find at Cooper’s

Cooper’s Cave is one of the most diverse and abundant fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind. “You can walk through the site and see literally hundreds of fossils in the rocks around you,” says Steininger. It’s an incredible experience.”

Fossils of the extinct hominid Paranthropus Robustus have been found at Cooper’s and the site is also known to be home to fossils of predators.

Large carnivore species, such as sabre-toothed cats, hyenas and a new species of large dog have also been found there, alongside evidence that they all co-existed.

One of the largest primates recorded at Cooper’s is believed to weigh 67kg, which is bigger than other hominids that existed in the Cradle. This raises the question, which primate was more dominant, the bipedal hominid or the large quadrupedal baboon?

A fun family day out in the Cradle of Humankind

This is a must for adults and children with an interest in palaeontology and archaeology. Remember to pack a jersey, torch, hat, apply sunscreen and wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes – and bring your camera!

As Christine tells her guests, “If you don’t spot a fossil, there is something wrong with your eyes, there are literally hundreds of fossils visible on the surface.”

The tour will start at 09h00 at Sterkfontein Caves. The cost of the tour is R350 per person and includes a light picnic lunch.

Guests are also able to combine the event with an overnight stay at the luxurious Maropeng Boutique Hotel for a special rate. 

Please note this tour will only go ahead if there is a minimum of ten people.

For bookings email magaliesinformer@maropeng.co.za, call (014) 577 9000 or visit www.maropeng.co.za and click on shop.

May 12: Bone Detectives: Reading the bones of our ancestors

The bones of our human ancestors hold many stories about our voyage through evolution. Fossil records provide clues to our diets and how we moved, and this wealth of information can be obtained from often small and incomplete pieces of bone.

Join Maropeng and Wits University’s up-and-coming scientist Brendon Billings on a fascinating journey of discovery, guided by the clues offered by fossils. Become detectives and reconstruct the history of our species.

On this tour, you will have the opportunity to compare different types of hominid bones, which will help you to understand the hominoid skeletal anatomy and learn how to identify fossil remains.

You will also be able to participate in an active observation class, where you will be asked to comment on and identify different fossil species.

The tour ends with a walk through Sterkfontein Caves with an experienced tour guide, allowing visitors to develop an appreciation of the geological context within which fossils are uncovered.

Enjoy a fantastic picnic buffet lunch overlooking the beautiful Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, which provides a poignant reminder of the landscape upon which the human evolutionary story began and continues to play out.

This tour is ideally suited for anyone with a passion for science or those who want to expand their knowledge on human evolution through an introduction into the toolkit used to identify fossil species. The tour will start at 09h00 at Sterkfontein Caves. The cost of the tour is R350 per person and includes the picnic lunch.

Please note this tour will only take place if there is a minimum of seven people.

Why not combine the event with an overnight stay at the luxurious Maropeng Boutique Hotel for a special rate?

For bookings email magaliesinformer@maropeng.co.za, call (014) 577 9000 or visit www.maropeng.co.za and click on shop.

May 19: Swartkrans picnic and walking tour

Swartkrans, one of the Cradle’s richest fossil sites, is usually closed to the public. But on these tours, small groups will have a rare opportunity to observe an active palaeontological dig and will be guided around the site by scientist Morris Sutton, who is currently excavating there.

Swartkrans has yielded the largest sample of Paranthropus robustus, and it is also significant for the discovery of the earliest evidence of the use of controlled fire in Southern Africa, dating back 1-million years.

The cost of the tour is R350 per person and includes a light picnic lunch. Please note the tour is strictly for adults only. This tour will only go ahead if there are a minimum of seven people booked and is weather dependent.

Guests are also able to combine the event with an overnight stay at the luxurious Maropeng Boutique Hotel for a special rate.

 For bookings email magaliesinformer@maropeng.co.za, call (014) 577 9000 or visit www.maropeng.co.za and click on shop.

May 26: Stargazing: The Stargazers

A wise old philosopher once asked, “Do we gaze at the stars because we are human, or are we human because we gaze at the stars?”

Early hominids must have looked up into the night skies and wondered what the stars were, and possibly what lay beyond them. Today, humans use sophisticated technologies to attempt to answer these same age old questions.

Maropeng’s resident astronomer, Vincent Nettmann provides an interesting look at the role of astronomy in the development of the human mind and what we have learnt about the starry skies during this process.

This illustrated talk features exquisite images from the Hubble Space telescope.

The evening begins at 18h00 with welcome drinks and dinner at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel where you can enjoy breathtaking views over the Cradle of Humankind as the sun sets.

Guests can enjoy a three-course dinner which will then be followed by an illustrated talk on the stars. Remember to bring binoculars so you can participate in this laser-guided sky tour. Subject to weather conditions, you will be able to observe the sky objects and the moon through a range of large aperture telescopes. The cost of this special evening is R295 per person.

For bookings email magaliesinformer@maropeng.co.za, call (014) 577 9000 or visit www.maropeng.co.za and click on shop.
 

COMPILED ON BEHALF OF MAROPENG BY CATHY FINDLEY PUBLIC RELATIONS. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT NICOLLE KAIRUZ ON (011) 463 6372 OR  NICOLLE@FINDLEYPR.CO.ZA

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