Back by popular demand, Maropeng’s Swartkrans Walking Tours – in which members of the public have the rare opportunity to visit an active palaeontological dig – will resume again this year with the first tour taking place on 26 January.
Tony Rubin, managing director of Maropeng, says the Swartkrans Walking Tours have been well received by the public and Maropeng is looking forward to hosting them once again this year. “The Swartkrans Walking Tours offer small groups of no more than 12 adults the rare opportunity to observe an active palaeontological dig at the site, which is usually closed to the public. Visitors are guided by scientist Dr Morris Sutton, who is currently excavating the site,” he says.
Swartkrans is the second-richest site for early stone tools and the richest site for bone tools, at the Cradle of Humankind, associated with early Pleistocene hominins.
It was at Swartkrans that Transvaal Museum (now known as the Ditsong Museum of Natural History) palaeontologist Dr Robert Broom and his assistant palaeontologist, John Robinson, first discovered Homo ergaster (previously named Telanthropus capensis), the first human ancestor thought to have made Acheulean stone tools – essentially, the earliest distinctive manufactured technology.
More than 200 hominin species have been discovered at the site to date, including Paranthropus robustus, an ancient cousin of humankind. Other discoveries include animal remains, stone and bone tools, as well as evidence of the controlled use of fire in southern Africa, dating back one million years. Several other Paranthropus fossils, of a species other than robustus, have been discovered in Swartkrans.
“The tour costs R350 per person and includes a light picnic lunch afterward. The tour offers a wonderful day out for couples or individuals interested in learning more about hominid fossils, palaeoanthropology and human evolution in a beautiful truly South African setting,” concludes Rubin.
For more information on the Swartkrans Walking Tours, visit www.maropeng.co.za.