For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sterkfontein Caves - Part 3

Part of the complex consists of six cathedral chambers, largest of which is the dripstone-decorated Hall of Elephants, 23 m (75 ft) high and 91 m (300 ft) long.
Other chambers include Fairy Chamber, Bridal Arch, Lumbago Alley and the Graveyard.
Dr Robert Broom, of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, began excavations of the cave in 1936 and made several discoveries of bones and other fossils.

His great find came in 1947 – the exceptionally well-preserved skull of a species of early man-ape which he called Plesianthropus transvaalensis, who lived about two million years ago.

The skull was that of a female and became known as ‘Mrs Ples’.
The species has subsequently been reclassified as Australopithecus africanus when the skull was positively recognized as belonging to the same species as the 'ape-child' skull discovered by Professor Raymond Dart at Taung in the northern Cape in 1924.

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