Maropeng to host the first display of the new Homo naledi fossils from Rising Star

"Almost Human" the largest display of ancient fossil hominins ever put on display to the public

  • by onRoute
  • May 29, 2017
  • 321

The 2013 discovery of Homo naledi in the Dinaledi Chamber (Chamber of Stars) of the Rising Star cave system announced in September 2015 made headlines around the world. It was a spectacular find, not only revealing a new species of ancient human relative, but also revealing the largest assemblage of fossil hominins ever discovered on the continent of Africa containing the bones of
infants, children and adults. But how had these bones come to rest in a deep underground chamber, and how old were these primitive looking small-brained human relatives?

Just two weeks ago, a second chamber was announced. This deep underground space, named the Lesedi Chamber (Chamber of Light) by the scientists, revealed further remains of Homo naledi, including one of the most complete skeleton of a fossil human relative ever found, an adult male individual affectionately named “Neo”, or “Gift” in the SeSotho language by his discoverers. The startlingly young date for the fossils of between 200,000 to 300,000 years ago was also announced, placing Homo naledi potentially in direct contact with the first modern humans who were then emerging on the continent of Africa.

Homo naledi and the chambers of Rising Star still hold many mysteries for science. Did Homo naledi bury its dead in ritual practices in these deep caverns? Did they meet early humans and if so, what was this moment like? Are they distant relatives of ours, surviving into the relatively recent past or are we in some way more closely related to these strange, small brained pre-humans? Maropeng,
the Official Visitors Centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, is proud to announce the opening of the spectacular exhibition ‘Almost Human’ , the single largest display of original fossil hominins in history, at The Gallery, Maropeng’s new temporary exhibition space on 25 May 2017.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site is an area of outstanding universal value. As Gauteng’s only World Heritage Site, and a premier tourism destination, the site is based on the conservation, exploration and interpretation of the story of humanity.

The exhibit of nearly a thousand original fossils of Homo naledi from the Dinaledi and Lesedi Chambers explores the journey of discovery of these remarkable and mysterious fossils. It delves into the science behind the discoveries in an accessible way, understandable to audiences of all ages. The Almost Human exhibit also provides visitors an unprecedented chance to view the actual
remains of these remarkable fossils up close, truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that is not to be missed, and cannot be had anywhere else in the world.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site is an area of outstanding universal value. As Gauteng’s only World Heritage Site, and a premier tourism destination, the site is based on the conservation, exploration and interpretation of the story of humanity and its brand value encompasses ancient history, human beginnings, adventure, discovery and a whole lot more. As the Official Visitors Center for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Maropeng serves as a platform to promote tourism through science by making the public aware of the cutting edge research being undertaken in the Cradle of Humankind. This state of the art exhibition space that
houses the Almost Human exhibit was built as part of the Gauteng Infrastructure Upgrade Project. This is the second completed construction, the first being the upgrade to the Hominin House facilities. This is yet another milestone forming part of the Gauteng Provincial Governments’ (custodians of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site) ongoing infrastructure upgrades at Maropeng and the broader World Heritage Site, which has been identified as a major catalyst for tourism development and growth in the Western Corridor of Gauteng.

The Cradle of Humankind has more than history to offer: escape the trappings of city life and visit this World Heritage Site and its surrounds which offer an array of experiences. This picturesque countryside is a mere 45 - 90 minute drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria and is closely located to the Magaliesberg, Hartbeespoort dam; Muldersdrift and other tourism hotspots.

Entrance into “Almost Human” is included in the entrance fee to the Maropeng Exhibition
Adults: R120 | Children (4-14): R65

For more information please go to www.maropeng.co.za or find us on Facebook Maropeng – Cradle
of Humankind and Twitter @MaropengSA

For enquiries please contact Lindsay Marshall, Curator on 084 400 2818 or email lindsaym@maropeng.co.za