im 22 years old, female doing my honns in ecological informatics at csir(pretoria)

Location: pretoria, gauteng, South Africa

i completed my Bsc (microbiology physiology) degree in 2005 at University of Limpopo, now im doing my honns in ecological informatics at university of the western cape.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

cradle of humankind by Lethabo

Cradle of humankind report

Sterkfontein Caves are located within the Isaac Edwin Stegmann Reserve about 10 km from Krugersdorp. The public knew about the caves in 1896 when Guglielmo Martinaglia searched for lime. The cradle of humankind side was first a lime mine and the miners burnt soma of the fossils while they were looking for lime. The miners did not know anything about fossils until Dr Robert Broom visited the place and he found an ape-man skull (Australopithecus africanus) which was about 2, 6 to 3 million years old. The cave consists of dolomitic limestone containing fossilised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and hominids. The place had reefs which died out and they were transformed into limestone which was later converted into dolomite. When the dolomite reacted with slightly acidic groundwater, calcium carbonate was dissolved to form underground caverns. The water table had dropped and the underground caverns were exposed to the air, this was caused by the reaction of water with dolomite. The dissolved calcium carbonate formed stalactites (hangs downwards), stalagmites(stcks up on the ground) and other crystalline structures. The cave entrance was very small so things (animals, plants-due to runoff) ell in the cave and they became cemented with lime which was out the dolomite to form breccia.

At Sterkfontein Caves over 850 hominid remains were discovered. The first fossil was discovered on 17 August 1936 which was discovered by Dr Robert Broom. One of the fossils which were discovered was an Australopithecus africanus named “Mrs Ples” which was discovered by William Martinus in 1947. A “Little Foot” which was consisting of four articulating foot bones with a mix of human and ape traits with an ankle which was fully adapted to an upright posture. The big toe was ape-like as with human thumb it was able to flex and grasp things. “Little Foot” is the oldest fossil is South Africa it is about 3 to 3.5 million years old. Dr John Robinson discovered many skulls and bones of ape-man as well as fossils of sabre-toothed cats and extinct monkeys and antelopes. There is still a whole fossil which is still embedded in a rock because it was difficult for them to remove the fossils from the rock and the place where the fossil is located is not open to the public.


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