This day in history, Robert Broom, known for having discovered “Mrs Ples”, was born in Paisley, Scotland. Though Broom was educated as a doctor, specializing in the field of midwifery, he was fascinated by the origin of mammals and used his medical profession to support his travels around the world. In 1897, Broom settled in South Africa. From 1903 to 1910, he worked as a professor of zoology and geology at Victoria College in Stellenbosch, but was forced to give up his position for promoting his belief in evolution. He then moved to the Karoo, where he practised medicine and continued to pursue his interests. In 1934, upon the request of General Jan Smuts, Broom accepted the position of assistant palaeontologist at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria. It was there that he began to search for early hominids, seeking more evidence of the specimens discovered by Raymond Dart, and that was termed Australopithecus africanus. In 1936, with his students, Broom found the fragments of six hominids in the 'Cradle of Humankind' region. Since 1936, thousands of fossils that show human evolution over the past 3.5 million years have been found, but one of the most significant discoveries was made in 1947 by Broom and John Robinson. They discovered the most complete Australopithecus skull, which Broom named Paranthropus robustus, shortened to “Mrs Ples”. Broom published his monograph in 1946, which led to most scientists finally accepting that the australopithecines were in fact hominids and not apes. Robert Broom died in 1951, having made an enormous contribution to the study of prehistoric life, which broadens our understanding of human existence.    

>Biographies Robert Broom [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 November 2013]| Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau| World Heritage Sites: The Cradle of Humankind from South African History Online [online], available at: [accessed November 2009]