The Sterkfontein Valley landscape in western Gauteng is home to the Cradle of Humankind. It gets the name as the birthplace of mankind, due to the discovery of the largest number and some of the oldest hominids remains ever found, some of which are said to be 2- to 3-million-year-old.
Among the fossil discovered here is the first adult Australopithecus, found by Dr. Robert Broom at Sterkfontein in 1936.
The Cradle of Humankind, a major tourist attraction in South Africa, is popular in that it welcomes about 224,000 visitors annually.
The location comprises a complex of limestone caves, the most prominent of which are the Sterkfontein Caves, the site of the most longstanding, continuous palaeoanthropological dig in the world. It was actually at Sterkfontein that the first fossils of a very early human called Telanthropus were discovered in 1947 by a Scottish Paleontologist named Robert Broom and his partner John T. Robinson.
Tourists can choose to visit the Sterkfontein Caves or visit the Sterkfontein Museum, where some interesting fossils are exhibited, such as:
a) Fossil skull of Australopithecus africanus which is fondly called ‘Mrs. Ples.’
b) An almost complete hominid skeleton called ‘Little Foot.’
c) The 1924 discovered juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull called ‘The Taung Child.’
d) The oldest stone tools (Oldowan) in Southern Africa, at Sterkfontein.
Visitors can also visit the Maropeng Visitor Centre, where there are timelines of the evolution of man, and the Sterkfontein restaurant for refreshments.