2015: looking back on a year filled with adventure, debate and discovery of a new species

  • December 28, 2015 | Christine Marot

In the 365 days it has taken for our blue planet to revolve around the Sun, many exciting things have happened at Maropeng, including some events that were significant not only for us, but for the whole of humankind.

While the highlight of 2015 was undoubtedly the unveiling of Homo naledi, other events also helped showcase our World Heritage Site to South Africans and the rest of the world.

The discovery of Homo naledi was the highlight of 2015

At the end of January we hosted a group of the country’s top Igers – including Gareth Pon, who now has nearly 260 000 followers – to share their experiences of Maropeng.

Hominin House – our dormitory-style, budget accommodation at Maropeng – underwent a greening revamp during February in the form of eco-friendly upgrades using sustainable and green building concepts and materials.

Not long afterwards, we highlighted a dedicated individual who embarked on a 48 000km journey to follow the evolutionary journey of humans out of Africa.

In early April the debate that had long raged around the age of one of South Africa’s most significant fossils – Little Foot – was finally resolved. Discovered in the Sterkfontein Caves, Little Foot is a mere 3.67-million years old.

On May 20 Maropeng scooped a hat-trick of TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence: for its visitor centre, the Maropeng Boutique Hotel and the Sterkfontein Caves.

There was an unexpected yet very special delivery for us in July – one that was very much alive! Our tour guides responded superbly when a young mother unexpectedly went into labour and gave birth at the exit of the Sterkfontein Caves. 

The path to the Sterkfontein Caves, one of the richest fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site

We also honoured Madiba in July on Mandela Day by refurbishing the food garden at Maloney’s Eye Primary School.

The most important day of 2015 for Maropeng was the unveiling of Homo naledi on 10 September. The eyes of the world were on Maropeng to witness a team of scientists announce that they had found a new species.

In November a new temporary exhibit, Beasts of the Cradle, began at Maropeng, which reveals insights into the animals that once preyed on our ancient relatives.

As schools all over the country ended their academic year and the holidays began, we shared some ideas for holiday activities with parents. Who knows how many future scientists will be inspired by a visit to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site?

As 2015 comes to an end, we would like to wish all our Maropeng supporters a fabulous new year and successful 2016 – see you in the Cradle soon!

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