Scientific Methods

Monday, April 10, 2006


We took the trip on 23 March 2006 to Sterkfontein caves with my colleagues, where we was learning about the evolution of human ancestor in South Africa. The site called the Cradle of Human Kind and is situated in northwest Johannesburg; South Africa. The site has been nominated by the Gauteng's provincial government as one of the world's heritage list and also nominated by UNESCO in 1999. The site covers 47 000 hectares of land and comprises a strip of a dozen dolomite limestone caves containing the fossilised remains of plants, animals and hominids.

The Sterkfontein caves are located within the Isaac Edwin Stegmann Reserve about 10 km from Krugersdorp. These caves were donated to the University of Witwatersrand by the Stegmann family. The dolomite from which the cave is formed started out as coral reefs growing in a warm shallow sea about 2,3 billion (*check your facts*) years ago, as the reefs died out they were transformed into limestone where after some time was later converted into dolomite.

A section of the cave is open to the public and there is a gravel platform from which the public can view the excavation site. There is a tea room and a small museum in which information about significant findings are on display. During our visit at strekfontein we were having a tour guide (Mr. Rufus Mokwena) who was guiding us about the cave and the thing that we have to consider when we are in the cave, one of the important measure when we are in the cave is to be close to each other to avoid missing . At the entrance to the cave there is species fossils replica displayed, we observed the displayed stone and on each it was written different types of species such as:

  • Lystosaurus which was the mammal-like reptile, it was believed to be 245million years old, it was believed a vegetarian.
  • Massospondylus which was South African dinosaur and it was an ancestor of Ostrich it was believed to be 200 million years old, it was found at Mapungubwe.
  • Mrs Ples, Australopithecus africanus from Sterkfontein it was believed 2.6 million years old.
  • Foot of Australopithecus africanus from Sterkfontein believed 33 million years old

The cave is modified to meet the human needs, mostly at the entrance even inside, they place a video stand which explain all the findings (Presentation about little foot) and the scientist who discover the fossil at Sterkfontein Mr. Ron Clark, they also place lights to provide visibility of the structure of the cave. They also construct steps to provide better movement in the cave, is a beautiful place to be as it have natural features even a lake inside, this cave is a good tourist guide as it have lots of amazing lovely natural design (shape) of limestone. On our way out from the cave it was design to attract tourist as they place a statue of Dr Robert Broom caring the fossil skull of Mrs Ples. It was well prepared trip as it helps us to know lots about human evolution and this was good planned trip as we were busy with the course that include human evolution. Hominid exhibition hall This exhibition hall consisted with the replica of the hominids fossils that were found long time ago and on each fossil was written the information about it, different pictures of earliest hominids, modern human, chimpanzees and gorillas were exhibited. In general I have learnt to work as a team and also to put trust on other people as they can be responsible for me. This visit to Sterkfontein also helps me to enhance my knowledge towards human evolution in South Africa.

Mr Elelwani Muanalo
CSIR Pretoria P.O. Box 395 Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 841 2133 Fax: 012 842 7024.
cell: 0825738678 email:
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