Scientific Methods

Monday, April 10, 2006


Trip to Sterkfontein

We took trip to Sterkfontein, the site called the Cradle of Human kind. The site is situated on the Gauteng province in South Africa. The Sterkfontein Valley landscapes in Western Gauteng and North West province consist of a band of important paleo-anthropological sites. This site has been nominated by the Gauteng's provincial government as one of the world's heritage list. 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 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 worm shallow sea about 2,3 billion 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.

On our way to the cave with the tour guide called Rufus Mokwena, we observed different tombstones like stones written different types of species that included the following:

  • Lystosaurus, a mammal like reptile from Karoo which is believed to be 245 million years ago and it was believed to be a vegetarian.
  • Foot of Australopithecus from Sterkfontein, which is believed to be 3.3 million years old.
  • Mrs Ples, Australopithecus africanus from sterkfontein which is believed to be 2.6 million years of old.
  • Massospondylus, a South Africa dinosaur. Believed to be 200 million years old and it was found at mapungubwe.

Inside the cave

We went to cave guided by the tour guide. He told us that the main entrance is man made and it was made to make it easy for the people to enter safely. He said that the old entrance was natural made but it is difficult and not safe to use that entrance that is why it was closed off. Inside the cave it is scary but not dark because there are electric lights to provide with lights. While we were inside we watched the video which was about the story of a little foot which we didn't see because the place was closed and we were not allowed to enter. The foot is believed to be 3.5 million years old.

We saw different rock formations, of which most are the dolomite rocks forming different shape structures like an elephant, a mother carrying a child and map of Africa.There was also the underground water and we were told that they are naturally clean. We went to different places inside the cave and some of the areas were too scary. The most scary place was when we were crawling and bending. On our way out from the cave we also observed the stature of Dr Robert Broom carrying the fossil skull of Mrs Ples.

Museum or hominid exhibition hall

We went to the exhibition hall where we saw different types of hominids fossil, skulls, teeth, bones and stones that were discovered, forming this process of evolution. These hominids fossils were named and dated according to their years of existence. The different pictures and portrait of earliest hominids, modern human, chimpanzees and gorillas were shown.

It was very very interesting for me for now i know what I dint know before. The other thing I have learned was to have trust to somebody. Like the scientist because the evidence is there to support what they are saying.

Mr Lufuno Mukwevho
CSIR Pretoria
P.O. Box 395
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 841 2133
Fax: 012 842 7024.
cell: 0723175626
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