Scientific Methods

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


It was on the 23 of March 2006 at 8am early in the morning when we took off from the CSIR to Krugersdorp. The aim of the journey was to visit the Cradle of the humankind site in Sterkfontein to see the cave and the species discovered to that cave. At about 11am we arrived at the site. While still waiting, the instructor who was assigned to our group arrived. After his arrival he introduced himself to us and also told us the rules which need to be followed while in the caves. One of the rules which made us more scary was that in some places within the caves we are going to walk in the caves using our knees. Fortunately, we managed to walk within the cave uninjured.

The Cradle of the Humankind is the one of the world heritage site which consists of the remains of the ancient plants, animals and hominids which are all fossilised. It is declared the world heritage site after 1994. The type of the rock in which the cave is formed is dolomite. The Cradle of humankind is found in the Province of Gauteng, even though the small part is in the North-West province.

It covers an area of approximately 47000ha of the land which is privately owned. The Cradle of humankind is also open to public, where the public can view the excavation. The one part of the excavation is natural, while the other part of the excavation is man-made. Within the cave there is also a water table. Small museum which contained both the plants and animal is also found in the area and also a tea room is available.

It is also thought that the first hominid, adult Australopithecine was found in the site. This was followed by the discovery of the skull of nearly completed adult female Australopithecus africanus. The above mentioned discovery was made by the former Witwatersrand University Professor Raymond Dart. The skull was nicknamed Mrs Ples, because was found near Transvaal. While moving along the path leading to the cave, one is greeted with different species with their years of discovery and the name of the person who discovered that species attached to the type of the rock called Gabbro.

Inside the cave there is a path which the people use to walk while inside but alongside the cave there is still some fossilised bones embedded in the rocks. When asked what the bones were of which species, the instructor responded by saying that it is not easy to identify the bones when they are still embedded in the rock. In the museum, all fossil remains are found ranging from the early Australopithecus to the modern Homo sapiens.

The Cradle of humankind is one of the world heritage site. This was named the world heritage site post 1994 by the state president. The site is also open to public to view its beauty and both the animal and plants remains.

Peter Muvhali
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