Sterkfontein


Sterkfontein
One of three neighbouring South African sites (the others being Kromdraai and Swartkrans) at which the remains of fossil hominids have been found.

The fossils found include those of Australopithecus africanus, A. robustus (see Australopithecus), and Homo erectus. In 1996 researchers uncovered the most complete australopithecine fossil skeleton since Lucy, that of an A. africanus individual with a humanlike pelvis but with limb proportions similar to those of a modern chimpanzee. At Makapansgat, 150 mi (240 km) to the north, the remains of about 40 individuals of A. africanus have been found.

* * *

▪ anthropological and archaeological site, South Africa
 site of paleoanthropological excavations just south of Johannesburg, South Africa, known for its artifacts as well as its fossils of ancient hominins (members of the human lineage). Located in the Highveld, the site was mined throughout the 20th century for its lime deposits. In 1936 Robert Broom of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria began collecting fossils from the miners. This led to the first discovery of an adult Australopithecus africanus (Australopithecus), an early hominin originally described in 1925 from Taung, another South African site. At first Broom ascribed his fossils to A. transvaalensis, a hitherto-unknown species. In 1947 he uncovered an adult skull so unique and well preserved that he proposed an entirely new genus, Plesianthropus transvaalensis. However, “Mrs. Ples,” as the 1947 fossil came to be known, is now classified with Broom's other finds as A. africanus. Crews continue to work at Sterkfontein, and the site has been one of the richest sources of information about human evolution, yielding more than 500 fossils.

      The site contains six very distinct geologic “members.” From Member 2 comes a beautifully preserved skeleton dating to approximately 3.3 million years ago (mya). In Member 4 (c. 2.7 mya) are the rich remains of A. africanus, with its small—almost ape-sized—brain, humanlike teeth, and intermediate skull. The body of A. africanus is fundamentally human in that it is adapted for walking upright, but it retains long forelimbs and short hindlimbs reminiscent of an ape. In Member 5 (1.5 to 2 mya) occur specimens attributed to Homo habilis as well as possible remains of the “robust” australopith, Paranthropus robustus (Australopithecus). Stone tools are conspicuously absent from levels at Sterkfontein associated with A. africanus (Members 2 and 4), but, during the time of Member 5, tools are abundant.

      Sterkfontein, along with the neighbouring sites of Kromdraai and Swartkrans, are located within the Cradle of Humankind, a region designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sterkfontein — (Afrikaans for Strong Spring ) is a set of limestone caves of special interest to paleo anthropologists located in Gauteng province, Northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa near the town of Krugersdorp. The archaeological sites of Swartkrans… …   Wikipedia

  • Sterkfontein — local. d Afrique du Sud à l O. de Krugersdorp, près de Johannesburg, où l on découvrit en 1936 des restes d australopithèques. Mines d or …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sterkfontein — Sitios de restos fósiles homínidos de Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, y alrededores1 Patrimonio de la Humanidad Unesco Arqueólogos en una estructura …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sterkfontein — 26°00′56.36″S 27°44′03.46″E / 26.0156556, 27.7342944 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sterkfontein — Archäologen in einem Bauwerk oberhalb des Eingangs zur Höhle Sterkfontein (afrikaans für „starke Quelle“) ist die Bezeichnung für eine Reihe von Karsthöhlen bei der Stadt Krugersdorp nordwestlich von Johannesburg in Südafrika. Die Höhlen sind von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sterkfontein — Uno de los tres sitios arqueológicos contiguos en Sudáfrica (los otros son Kromdraai y Swartkrans) en los que se han encontrado restos fósiles de homínidos. Los fósiles descubiertos corresponden, entre otros, al Australopithecus africanus, el A.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sterkfontein — Stẹrkfontein   [ tɛjn], Fundort (1936 58) von Schädel und Knochenresten des Australopithecus africanus (Australopithecinen) und des Homo habilis bei Krugersdorp, seit 1999 UNESCO Weltkulturerbe …   Universal-Lexikon

  • sterkfontein — sterk·fon·tein …   English syllables

  • Sterkfontein Dam — Reservoir seen from the R74 Official name Sterkfontein Dam Location Free State …   Wikipedia

  • sterkfontein ape-man — ˈsterkfənˌtān noun Usage: usually capitalized S Etymology: from Sterkfontein, farm near Johannesburg, So. Africa, where the specimens were found : an extinct southern African anthropoid (Australopithecus transvaalensis or Plesianthropus… …   Useful english dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.