Within the Sterkfontein Caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. The most important and most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and “Little Foot”, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than 3-million years old. These fossils, both found in the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind, tell us much about the precursors of modern humans, Homo sapiens.
Archaeological finds within the Cradle of Humankind also include 2-million-year-old stone tools. The oldest recorded, at Swartkrans, near the Sterkfontein Caves, is a collection of 270 burnt bones that reveals how our ancestors learned to master fire more than 1-million years ago – a significant development and an early technological innovation. The ability to do this has taken us from the basic skills needed to keep ourselves warm and to cook our food, to being able to control and harness the power of fire to the extent that we can now create and burn rocket fuel to reach space and beyond.
Important: Please wear comfortable shoes when going to the caves and leave your handbags and other luggage behind. There are a number of tight spots and pathways to negotiate in the caves and it is not advisable to do the tour if you are claustrophobic. It is also not advisable for people who suffer from acute asthma or chest problems to do the tour as there are a lot of stairs.