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Pro­fes­sor Robert Broom is best known for his dis­cov­ery of Mrs Ples”

Maropeng is delight­ed to be host­ing the Roy­al Soci­ety of South Africa’s Broom Col­lo­qui­um on Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 26.

The Broom Col­lo­qui­um serves to com­mem­o­rate the late palaeon­tol­o­gist and med­ical doc­tor, Pro­fes­sor Robert Broom, and pro­vides a plat­form for sci­en­tists to gath­er togeth­er and share and present papers on a wide range of research issues.

Broom, who passed away 60 years ago, is remem­bered for his sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the field of palaeon­tol­ogy. He is best known for his dis­cov­ery of the Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus africanus skull known as Mrs Ples” at Sterk­fontein Caves, and Paran­thro­pus robus­tus at Swarkrans, both in the Cra­dle of Humankind.

His numer­ous con­tri­bu­tions have enabled a bet­ter under­stand­ing of more recent finds, and the Col­lo­qui­um aims to hon­our Pro­fes­sor Broom in this regard. Here are five things you may not have known about the renowned Professor:

1. A man of many interests…

Scot­land-born Broom spe­cialised in mid­wifery, but always had a fas­ci­na­tion with mam­mal ori­gins and evolution.

2. Con­tro­ver­sial thinker…

He came to South Africa in 1897 and was a pro­fes­sor of zool­o­gy and geol­o­gy at Vic­to­ria Col­lege in Stel­len­bosch. How­ev­er, he was asked to vacate his post after focus­ing too much on, and vocal­is­ing ideas around, evolution.

3. A new and excit­ing chapter…

Broom went to the Karoo where he prac­tised med­i­cine and lat­er became involved in projects under­tak­en by the Trans­vaal Muse­um in Pre­to­ria, search­ing for hominids in the Cra­dle of Humankind.

4. Dis­cov­er­ies that would change how we view the world…

In 1936, togeth­er with his stu­dents, he dis­cov­ered the remains of six hominids in the area. In the same year, he was the first per­son to con­duct research at the Bolt’s Farm site near the Sterk­fontein Caves, and also dis­cov­er impor­tant fos­sils there.

5. Com­ing full circle…

Broom was born on Novem­ber 30. So the Broom Col­lo­qui­um will not only be com­mem­o­rat­ing 60 years since his pass­ing, but the birth­day of one of the great­est palaeon­tol­o­gists of all time.

An exhi­bi­tion of some of the orig­i­nal fos­sils dis­cov­ered at Bolt’s Farm will be on dis­play at Maropeng until Feb­ru­ary 2012.

The Col­lo­qui­um will take place on Novem­ber 26, from 08h30 to 16h00, and is open to the pub­lic. Tick­ets cost R300 per per­son and includes tea, lunch and access to all the presentations.

Book online for the Broom Col­lo­qui­um.