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The first hominid, Australopithecus, was found in the valley by students excavating under the supervision of Professor Raymond Dart of the University of the Witwatersrand.To date fossils of some 500 hominids have been found, making it one of the richest sites in the world for early hominids.The Maropeng Visitor Centre is an exciting, world-class exhibition, focusing on the development of humans and our ancestors over the past few million years.Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana, the main indigenous language in this area of South Africa.

Once you’ve had your fill of educational exhibits at the Maropeng Visitor Centre, it’s time to take a leisurely boat cruise deep underground to a bottomless lake.The protected heritage site spans an area of 47 000 hectares, on a bed of dolomite deposited around 2.5-billion years ago.Similar fossils have been found at other sites in south and east Africa but the Cradle of Humankind has produced more than 950 hominid fossil specimens.It is one of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa and the only one in Gauteng.It is internationally renowned as the “place where humankind originated” and regardless of your beliefs (creation versus evolution); a tour of its facilities helps put modern life into perspective.The Sterkfontein Caves are located in the Cradle of Humankind which is one of the world’s richest hominid fossil sites.

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