Organic molecules found in 66-million year old fossil

  • July 13, 2009 | Category: News

In 1999 teenager and budding palaeontologist Tyler Lyson discovered the fossil of a mummified dinosaur, later dubbed Dakota, on his family’s farm. Dakota is one of only five dinosaur mummies ever discovered and is an important paleontological find.

Dakota was found with its skin envelope, along with other areas, including its tail, arms and legs, largely intact. In this almost complete form, Dakota is essentially a three-dimensional fossil.

Read more

Stargazing – one small step for man

  • July 13, 2009 | Category: News

On July 4, astronomical enthusiasts gathered at Maropeng to spend an evening admiring and learning about the stars. The evening celebrated the 40th anniversary of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s July 1969 moon landing.

Guests hoped to view the moon, in its full phase, but were disappointed when overcast weather prevented them from gazing at the sky through telescopes. The telescopes would have enabled them to view the moon’s surface on which Armstrong historically declared that he had taken “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. 

Read more

Big dreams and a big heart – Portia Mogamisi

  • July 09, 2009 | Category: News

Portia Mogamisi is a self-proclaimed people person. She started at Maropeng as a cleaner in 2006, and was later recruited as a guide by the former curator.

“I love working with people, interacting with them and learning from them,” says Portia.

“I especially enjoy meeting international tourists and telling them about South Africa. They come here with one concept about how we are, but I like to show them how welcoming we are. Then they leave with a different concept.”

Read more

Temporary signage puts Maropeng on the map

  • July 08, 2009 | Category: News

On January 28, 2009 we reported on the inadequate signage to Maropeng, the visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind.

Maropeng had been inundated with complaints from visitors about the poor signage, but was unable to rectify the problem because only the relevant provincial government authorities could address the issue.

Read more

Rich source of fossils found in Free State

  • July 07, 2009 | Category: News

A riverbed on a farm in the Free State is the site of a ground-breaking fossil discovery. Several hundred animal fossils between 3.5-million and 4-million years old have been discovered on the site so far.

The site was discovered in 1955 by railway workers working on the train tracks for the gold mines. The workers discovered several mammoth fossils, including a near-complete tusk. Excavation only started 52 years later in 2007, leading to the discoveries.

Read more

Australian dinosaur fossils prompt a rethink

  • July 06, 2009 | Category: News

Recent dinosaurian fossil discoveries in Australia have earned the continent a place alongside Africa and the Americas in palaeontological history. Until recently, Australia’s prehistoric significance was doubted as few dinosaur fossils have ever been found there. 

Excavations held between 2006 and 2009 in Queensland, Australia, have led to the discovery of hundreds of fossils that have confirmed the prehistoric existence of large dinosaurs in the region. The fossils date back 98-million years and were found in one of Australia’s “billabongs”.

Read more

Zodwa Mtshali: Guide with a sense of fun and a passion for people

  • July 03, 2009 | Category: News

Zodwa Mtshali started her career in the Cradle of Humankind as a waitress, but this year she is celebrating her fourth year as a guide.

Zodwa, who is based at Sterkfontein Caves, is the daughter of the late Ben Mtshali, who was a guide at the caves himself for more than 20 years, before his death in 2003. “I’m continuing the heritage,” says Zodwa proudly, her energy and enthusiasm lighting up her face.

Working for Maropeng a Afrika, the company that operates the Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng, the official Cradle of Humankind’s Visitor Centre, is a family affair for the Mtshalis: Zodwa’s mum, Ruth, works in the restaurant kitchen at “Sterk”.

Read more

Theory of evolution gains ground worldwide

  • July 03, 2009 | Category: News

A recent survey conducted by the British Council’s “Darwin Now” project suggests that there is increased global acceptance of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Darwin Now “celebrates the lasting impact of Darwin’s ideas about evolution” 150 years after the publication of his book Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Survey results were revealed on June 30 in London at the World Conference of Science Journalists. While the results do not show universal acceptance of Darwin’s theory, Darwinists are celebrating the global acknowledgment of the British naturalist and his work.

Read more

Calling all jazz lovers

  • June 30, 2009 | Category: News

Join the Chromatics for jazzy Sunday lunches at the Maropeng Hotel, launching on July 4, 2009.

Established musicians Michael Ramasimont and Bareng Seilane make up this jazz duo. Maropeng Marketing Manager Erica Saunders says, “We auditioned a lot of bands, but really liked their sound.”

The Chromatics, influenced by jazz greats Duke Ellington and Sergio Mendes, produce a mixture of old school and modern jazz.

Read more

Possible early human turns out to be unknown ape

  • June 25, 2009

The Longgupo jaw, a controversial fossil find which scientists claimed represented an unknown type of hominid, has been shown to originate from ape, rather than human, descendants.

Scientist Russell Ciochon made headlines in the 1980s when he discovered a 2-million-year-old fossil jaw bone in a cave in central China, seemingly belonging to an unknown hominid. Then, in the mid-1990s, Ciochon theorised that his discovery represented a wholly unknown species predating the appearance of Homo erectus in Asia by roughly 1-million years.

Read more