Great South African skull returns to Maropeng after 8 years

Posted on 5 December 2013

The Maropeng Visitor’s Centre in the Cradle of Humankind will be hosts to a very special exhibition as of 10 December. It’s called ‘Mrs Ples’ and friends – a selection of hominin fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and it’s a must for anyone and everyone remotely interested in where we came from. Even if you don’t care how the early humans lived, the fossils presented at this exhibition will still fascinate you.

According to Tony Rubin, Managing Director of Maropeng, ‘this is the first time that Mrs Ples will be returning to Maropeng since the centre’s opening eight years ago.’ If you’ve already seen it, then there’s still reason to go back, as the exhibition includes a selection of other very important hominin fossils that didn’t form part of it previously.

The Ditsong Museum Of Natural History and the Evolutionary Sciences Institute at the University of The Witwatersrand loaned the exhibition material to Maropeng, but only for just over a month.


Exhibition dates

10 December 2013 to 19 January 2014

Maropeng Visitor's Centre, Cradle of Humankind

Specific fossils

Other special fossils that will be on display include TM 1517, the type specimen of Paranthropus robustus discovered at Kromdraai; COB 101, the only hominin fossil discovered at Coopers Cave; and SK 48, a young Paranthropus robustus cranium showing two leopard teeth puncture marks in it.

‘This is an interesting specimen as it indicates that our hominin ancestors were the hunted rather than the hunter,’ says Rubin.


More on the Cradle of Humankind

Around 40% of the world’s known hominid fossils have been unearthed in The Cradle of Humankind. Because of this, it earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1999. Excavations at Sterkfontein Caves specifically, are ongoing. Fossil finds at the site now total about 500 hominins, making Sterkfontein one of the richest fossils resources in the world.

“It is thanks to these fossil sites that we have an understanding of humankind’s journey to humanity and the evolutionary trajectory that led us to where we are today,” says Rubin.


More on Mrs Ples

Mrs Ples (or Sts 5 as it is known scientifically) was discovered by Dr. Robert Broom in 1947 at the Sterkfontein Caves. At 2.15 million years old, it’s the most complete fossil cranium ever found. At the time, it was nicknamed ‘Mrs Ples’.

‘A chance to see Mrs Ples, alongside the other very important hominin fossil remains is a unique and special opportunity for us all. Maropeng is only a 45-minute drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria and a visit to the see the exhibition would be a great adventure to enjoy during the holiday season,” concludes Rubin.

*Main image by Flowcomm

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