Searching for our early ancestors- ancient fossils, new information

  • Posted: Feb 15, 2012

Iziko South African Museum
From 18 February 2012

“The search for our early ancestors” will open at the Iziko South African Museum on 18 February 2012 with a public lecture at 11am, by Prof. Lee Berger. The exhibition provides viewers with an introduction to Australopithecus sediba, a small upright, tree climbing hominin who lived in the African savanna nearly 2 million years ago.

Malapa Research Team leader, Prof. Berger of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand, arranged the donation of casts of the skeletons of an adult and juvenile which form the focus of the exhibition. His public lecture entitled: “The new Homo species Australopithecus sediba and the origins of the genus Homo”, will describe these two remarkably well-preserved individuals, recovered at the Malapa site.

South Africa has a rich fossil heritage, which includes globally important remains of some of our earliest ape-like ancestors, the Australopithecines. Australopithecus sediba is the most recent find from South Africa’s “Cradle of Humankind” and was discovered by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger's nine-year-old son, Matthew, while exploring his father’s dig site at the Malapa Nature Reserve in Gauteng.

Australopithecus sediba has characteristics of both the more ape-like Australopithecines and the earliest representatives of our own genus Homo.  This new 1.977 million year old species appears to fill a gap between Australopithecus africanus and the earliest representatives of our own genus, placing it on the cusp of a transition not hitherto observed in our fossil record.
The exhibition highlights the discovery of Australopithecus sediba and places it in a broader context, illustrated by casts of some of the key fossils, depicting over 4 million years of human development. The find site, exposed in an old lime miner’s prospecting pit, is described along with information, geological context and methods used to date the finds.

Enquiries: Dr. Graham Avery on Telephone: +27 (21) 4813895 or Email


Iziko Museums (Iziko) operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and the Social History Centre in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections which reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation which brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, as well as unlimited free access to individuals aged 18 and under (excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium).

COMMEMORATIVE DAYS – FREE ENTRANCE (excluding Iziko Planetarium and Castle of Good Hope)

  • Human Rights Day: 21 March
  • Freedom Day: 27 April
  • International Museum Day: 25 May
  • Africa Day: 25 May
  • Youth Day: 16 June
  • National Women’s Day: 9 August
  • Heritage Week: 24 September
  • National Aids Awareness Day: 1 December
  • Emancipation Day: 1 December
  • Day of Reconciliation: 16 December

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