The Cradle of Humankind, located in Johannesburg, South Africa, is not only a paleo-anthropological site but is also one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It was declared a world heritage site in 1999 for its rich contribution to the understanding of human history as it is home to Australopithecine specimens dating back more than 3.5 million years. Specimens found by archeologists on the site have contributed to the evolutionary theory that most human ancestors originated from Africa and migrated throughout the world from the continent.
Interestingly, the fossil named Mrs. Ples, a 2.3-million-year-old fossil, was found at the Sterkfontein Caves located at the Cradle of Humankind site in 1947 by Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. Recently, 15 fossil skeletons of an extinct species of hominin named Homo Naledi were found in the Dinaledi Chamber by a paleo-anthropological team led by Lee Berger.
Aside from providing an in-depth look at human history, the Cradle of Humankind provides a historical background on the evolution of the earth with regards to continental drifts that took place millions of years ago and dinosaurs that existed on earth.
At the entrance of Maropeng, one of the sites of the Cradle of Humankind, there are interesting facts about human genetic make-up which informs visitors of the uniqueness of every single person.
There are two main sites open to visitors, including the main exhibition site where you can see the history of the earth and humankind – Maropeng, and the Sterkfontein Caves, where you can view the fossils that have been found.
The Cradle of Humankind is open every day from 09h00 to 17h00, and tickets range from R65 ($5) to R190 ($15).