Maropeng explains Darwin at Yebo Gogga science show

  • October 19, 2009

Lindsay Marshall chats to WITS students about the exhibition.

Maropeng’s dynamic duo, Curator Lindsay Marshall and Education Marketing Executive Magel van de Venter, were out in full force at this year’s University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Yebo Gogga show. This annual interactive life - sciences show attracts both young and old through its doors.

This is the first year that Maropeng has exhibited at the show.

The theme for this year’s show was Fitness, which in evolutionary theory is the capability of an individual of a certain genotype to reproduce and then pass these genes to the next generation. If differences in individual genotypes affect fitness, then the frequency of the genotype will change over generations – the genotypes with higher fitness become more common. This process is called natural selection.

The theme of this year’s show fitted in perfectly with Maropeng’s latest Original Fossil Display entitled Evolution: digging for an understanding. “Darwin and human evolution are central themes in our exhibition,” says Marshall.

And so when Marshall approached Caroline Crump, curator of the Life Science Museum, for exhibition material for the display, they agreed that Maropeng should exhibit at Yebo Gogga.

The Maropeng stand at the show was entitled Darwin, Mrs Ples and the Cradle of Humankind – discover it all at Maropeng.


Magel van de Venter explains what Maropeng is all about to a visitor to the stand.

The main focus of the stand was to educate the audience on Darwin’s study of comparative anatomy and the similarity between chimpanzees, gorillas and modern humans. The stand also looked at Darwin’s proposal that we share a common ancestor. Recent news has suggested that we do have a common ancestor in the form of Ardipithecus ramidus.

The stand also explained the importance of the discovery of Mrs Ples, why the Cradle of Humankind is such an important World Heritage Site and of course what Maropeng, the Official Visitor Centre of the Cradle of Humankind, actually does.

“I really enjoyed engaging with the schoolchildren as well as many of the Wits students. For me, being associated with such a long-standing Wits event was extremely important, and goes a long way to building our relationship with my alma mater,” said Marshall.

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