18 July 2005

World Heritage Sites: Two more South African sites added

Taung's Skull and the Mokapane Valley added to the Cradle of Human Kind World Heritage Sites.

The application to incorporate the Taung site derives from the significance of the Taung Skull, the partial skull of a juvenile ape-man or Australopethicus Africanus.

The Taung skull is regarded as evidence of the "missing link" in hominid evolution and the location of the find proved that humankind evolved in Africa and not Asia.

The Taung Skull Site exhibits the same characteristics as hominid sites such as Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and their environs. It was therefore decided that, although not physically linked, an application would made to extend the Sterkfontein site to include Taung, given their common features (an extension in series).

Similarly, the Mokapane Valley derives its outstanding universal value from the fact that preserved within the many ancient caves and sites in this valley is a long and unprecedented record of early human occupation which extends from the Australopithecine (ape-man times) over three and a half million years ago up to the present. It also captures a technological record ranging from the Early Stone Age, Middle Stone Age and Iron Age periods.

Animal fossils include those of extinct sabre-toothed cats, giant porcupines and hyraxes. Pollen grains and indigenous crops have also been fossilised in the Valley. Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Z. Pallo Jordan, welcomed the new extensions.

"We are very pleased with the outcome following our application for extensions to the Sterkfontein Site. I am convinced that the extensions will leave a lasting legacy for many generations to come. We, as humanity and the progeny of this land, have a genealogy with which we can trace our origins and humanity’s journey from our very beginnings through to our evolution to modern times," he said.

Source: www.deat.gov.za


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