Thanks for reading and for your interest in Africa. DNA analysis shows that modern humans spread out of Africa perhaps 60,000 to 40,000 years ago and replaced the last, now ‘dead branches’ of the family tree in Europe and Asia. Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of this site on Google Earth, click here. Taung:  The Taung skull fossil site is where the ‘Taung Child’, the type specimen of Australopithecus africanus was found in 1924. Berger also serves as the distinguished science advisor for the Museum’s Center for the Exploration of the Human Journey. Notable finds include specimens of Paranthropus, Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus robustus, as well as numerous stone and bone tools. Making the Link. It’s estimated that more than a third of all hominid fossils have been found here, with some dating back to 3.5 million years ago. Download this 14-page guide to the key hominin fossils found across the continent, and the story of human origins and evolution. The Makapans Valley was declared part of the world heritage site in 2005 and is about 300 km from Sterkfontein, near Mokopane in Limpopo Province. Australopithecus afarensis _____ is the species of robust australopithecine that has been found in South Africa. Australopithecus africanus – of which Mrs Ples and the Taung child are examples – lived between about 3-million and 2-million years ago. The oldest known Homo erectus and Paranthropus robustus fossils have been found in a hilltop cave and a new study details a critical period of hominin evolution showing that two million years ago “three different human-like species lived side-by-side in South Africa”. The partial skeletons the team found "have a combination of features that we have not seen before," says Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist and director of the human-origins program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. ORIGINS was developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society and made possible through the Perot Museum’s official alliance with Wits University. Africa is the birthplace of humankind. The next four photos provide a glimpse of the Taung Skull Fossil Site (350 km away) and then the Makapan Valley (300 km in the opposite direction). Thus far, there is agreement that all hominids found outside Africa are members of which genus? From Sterkfontein the slideshow moves to Wonder Cave, the biggest cave chamber in the region, and the most decorative. The fossil came to him by way of fossils that had been collected out of mines in the Taung region of South Africa. The region is called the Cradle of Humankind because some of the earliest ancestors of modern humans were born there. Hominids – the ancestors of modern humans – first emerged about seven million years ago, in Africa. Homo ergaster had an even bigger brain, was about as tall as modern humans, used more advanced tools, and could possibly control fire. Visits to Makapan have to be arranged in advance as this is not yet sufficiently popular to warrant development of a visitor centre, or self-guided access or full-time staffing. The study of fossils and DNA suggests that our family tree begins with an ape species that lived between about 8-million and 7-million years ago. The visitor is taken on a journey back in time, starting with a short boat ride through a primeval world of fire and water, experiencing the elemental origins of life. The guided tour of the cave complex takes in a number of cave chambers and narrow crawl spaces, passes active underground exploration sites and provides an opportunity to see fossilised bones embedded in the natural 'cave breccia'. Motsetse:  Site with well-preserved fauna, including a sabre-toothed cat, Makapans Valley:  Wealth of animal and hominid fossils stretching back more than 3-million years. In the late winter of 1976, the world famous fossil collector James Kitching was doing a survey near South Africa’s border with Lesotho. Next was Australopithecus afarensis, which lived between about 3.6-million and 3-million years ago, and which is best represented by the Ethiopian fossil ‘Lucy’. Found in the Ladybrand District of the Free State, the fossil dates from the very beginning of the dinosaur age and sheds light on the evolution of our planet as well as that of these great lizards. Gladysvale:  Rich fossil site with clear stratigraphy (levels). Fondly called ‘The rainbow nation’ the second richest African state is home to approximately 56 million inhabitants. 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