Second biggest archaeological discovery of the century at Sterkfontein


Sterkfontein caves.

Tuesday, 8 December 1998

One of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century was documented in the South African Journal of Science on this date. Dr Ron Clark of the palaeo-anthropological research institute of the University of the Witwatersrand discovered the petrified skeleton of a 3,5 million year old hominid (ape-man) in the Sterkfontein Caves near Krugersdorp. The near-complete skeleton, belonging to the Australopithecus species, is 1.22 metre tall.  Australopithecus preceded the genus Homo, to which we belong. Scientists believed the find to be the most significant since the discovery in 1924 of a skull belonging to the so-called Taung child, also in the Sterkfontein caves. Sterkfontein was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000. The area in which it is situated, was named the Cradle of Humankind.

• Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.

Last updated : 20-Nov-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011