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Expedition Underway to Extract Latest Fossil Find From Cradle of Humankind Cave

Expedition Underway to Extract Latest Fossil Find From Cradle of Humankind Cave

Six specialised archaeological cavers in SA to help with new excavation

An international team of researchers will in the next few days begin excavations on a new site that may contain evidence of early human fossil remains in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (COHWHS), some 40km north Johannesburg.

Professor Lee Berger, a Research Professor in Human Evolution from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, will direct the expedition at Rising Star Cave. Berger is best known for the discovery of Australopithecus sediba at the Malapa site in the COHWHS — one of the most significant palaeoanthropological discoveries in recent times.

The latest discovery was made by an expedition team sent out by Berger to search the deepest recesses of the caves in the Cradle. “The exploration team leader Pedro Boshoff and his two assistants, Steve Tucker and Rick Hunter, were able to access a chamber deep underground that is nearly impossible to get to, where they have found some significant fossils on the surface of the cave floor,” says Berger. The first step in the Rising Star Expedition is to get the fossils out of the cave and to study them thoroughly before any pronouncement can be made.

“We do not know as yet what species of hominin we have found, and we will not speculate. Our aim is to get the fossils out carefully, study them, compare them to other fossil material from around the world and then proceed to analyse and describe them. This is part of the scientific process and we are hoping to publish our findings — if all goes well — late in 2014,” explains Berger.

The key challenge is that the new site is in the cave structure of the Cradle and is about 30 metres underground, with a choke point only 18 cm wide.

This compelled Berger to call on his community of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn friends to help him find “tiny and small, specialised cavers and spelunkers with excellent archaeological, palaeontological and excavation skills.”

Within days Berger had a list of 57 qualified candidates, of which six scientists were selected to participate in the excavation, all of them women.

“These are highly trained scientists with caving experience from the US, Canada and Australia who are currently in South Africa preparing for the excavation,” adds Berger. “Only a limited number of people will be allowed to the access-restricted site, as one of my key priorities is the safety of our scientists and researchers. We also have to do the best that we can under the circumstances to get these fossils out of the cave, through a complex recovery process.”

Members of the Speleological Exploration of South Africa will assist the expedition.

Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University, says: “The University is home to the richest collections of hominid fossils in the world, and discoveries made by Wits scientists in the Cradle of Humankind are some of the most significant in the palaeosciences record. Professor Berger and his team have already added to this valuable collection with the discovery of Australopithecus sediba, and the latest find to be excavated by the Rising Star Expedition will once again demonstrate the tremendous promise of the palaeosciences on the continent.”

Dawn Robertson, CEO of the Gauteng Tourism Authority that manages the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, says the latest discovery “once again shows the importance of the region to science as it continues to add knowledge to our understanding of human origins in Africa and we cannot wait to see the results of this expedition. Gauteng Tourism is striving to emphasize the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site as one of the unique selling points of our province and this expedition provides the perfect platform to highlight this incredibly significant area.”

“This project is the essence of exploration, and we are thrilled to support Lee Berger and his team,” says Terry Garcia, executive vice president for Missions, National Geographic. “We look forward to sharing the project results across the globe.”

To ensure the safety of the scientists and allow the team to focus on the excavation, access to the site will be restricted. Updates on excavations will be provided through a blog managed by National Geographic, found at http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/blog/rising-star-expedition/

The excavation and scientific analysis that follows will be featured in a National Geographic/NOVA television special.

[This text is from the official press release.]

Read All Rising Star Expedition Posts

Comments

  1. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    January 13, 3:36 pm

    Definition of an atheist-evolutionist: A person who, by some mysterious ‘evolutionary’ alchemy, created himself 4,6 billion years ago out of some primordial chemicals in seawater and then, with the aid of a sudden, accidental and purely random stroke of lightning on that primordial mixture, amazingly (against all known mathematical* odds) went on to, over time, ‘evolve’ into just about everybody else on Earth too (including his mother-in-law and his wife). To a rational, mature human being It sounds pretty much like a fairy tale for grown-ups who just won’t grow up.

    * Mathematics in ‘Evolution’: Please refer to the 1966 Wistar Symposium (USA) where some of the cream of the world’s mathematicians have declared ‘evolution’ mathematically (i.e. scientifically) unfeasible. In other words, the Theory looks good on paper but does not work in Nature at all. The reader may test it for himself/herself: When required, will the reader wait for ‘evolution’ to fold a little paper-airplane or will the reader rather fold it himself/herself? (I thought so).

  2. Angus Stewart
    South Africa
    December 29, 2013, 6:18 pm

    Congratulations to the 2 cavers who discovered the fossils, and of course the same congratulations to are due to the entire Rising Star Team. Please keep us updated as new discoveries take place, society is never too old to learn.

    Humankind spends so much time, energy and funds trying to explore the universe, when close to home on planet earth we still have so many unanswered questions .

    Angus Stewart
    PRETORIA, ZA

  3. Johann Olivier
    United States
    December 18, 2013, 10:08 am

    Enthralling stuff, guys. Thanks for the great and courageous work.

    (What we know about Piet Stassen: He types a lot, but says little. The little he says is rote gibberish. Tiresome.)

  4. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 13, 2013, 1:18 am

    ‘Evolutionary Theory’ romanticises death, destruction and biological nihilism. It is bad news on steroids. Why would anyone in his right mind preach such an anti-gospel so glaringly devoid of any positive cosmic anticipation and hope? If Evolution were really true, why do evolutionists want to canvas for adherents at all? What do they hope to achieve with their bleak, black, occult-type ideology of eternal destruction, personal organic biological recycling, no resurrection and an Eternity devoid of any fellowship with a Holy Creator? How will they ever in Eternity engineer the forgiveness of their sins without a Redeemer and a Messiah? ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is an ideological house-of-card established on perverse and false pseudo-scientific hopes and all kinds of duplicitous, treacherous innuendoes and messages. If I were an evolutionist, I would hang my head in shame for having to preach a message so colourless, irrational and devoid of the Eternal Hope of friendship with the holy redeemer, Jesus Christ.

  5. Piet Stassen
    November 13, 2013, 1:13 am

    1. Guys, you are not helping when some of you for instance say (i) “the fossils were planted” and/or (ii) “both parties are correct and should work together toward a mutual goal”.

    2. To the credit of the young people and palaeontologists who extract these fossils often at great risk to personal safety: I am satisfied that they are perfectly sincere in their mission to have any fossils removed, classified and catalogued etc. in terms of established scientific protocols. When you say the (Maropeng) fossils were planted. you are also by implication saying that those ‘authentic ‘ fossils that were thus not planted are indeed proof for ‘Evolution’ (while they certainly are not). Let’s not insult the atheist-evolutionist camp with the lame excuse that the fossils were planted. The ‘Cleopatra: Queen-of-denial’ route won’t do.

    3. I reject with the contempt that it deserves any attempt by the ‘Creative Evolutionists’ (supporters of ‘Theistic Evolution”) to make the Creator complicit to the infamy of ‘Evolutionary Theory’. Darwin’s brainless theory (‘natural selection’) is atheistic to begin with, and one cannot adopt the biological accident of random and chance-Evolution as if it was clandestinely conceived and executed by Deity. What an insult to that humble carpenter from Nazareth who always stood up for the weak, the poor and the destitute, so utterly in complete defiance of Evolutionary Theory’s sick and perverted ‘survival of the fittest’ idea! In such a scenario ‘Evolutionary Theory’ would lose its ‘random, brainless and ‘pure chance’ status (devoid of any Intelligent Design) and begin to adopt the status of an intelligent, premeditated science, which militates against anything the atheist-evolutionists ever taught. Do you want Darwin, Gould, Lamarck and Goldsmith to turn in their graves? We insult the Creator to even suggest that He could have been involved in the design and application of such a brutal, cruel and reprehensible a concept as ‘Evolutionary Theory’. The idea of ‘Creative Evolution’ is a theological cop-out, and was devised by people who, in terms of the current very popular (but false) ‘International Theology of Tolerance’, wanted to engineer a truce between the pro- and anti-evolutionist camps. If a person really wants to adopt Evolutionary Theory as his/her ‘theology’, he/she should do the honourable thing and become a full-blown atheist-evolutionist. Please do not try to contaminate the core message of the Holy Scriptures with all kinds of preposterous pro-evolutionist (‘Creative Evolution’ type) mating-overtures.

    4. No fossil or fossil-fragment will succeed in a respectable Court of Law as ‘prima facie’ evidence for Evolution (such as e.g. evidence for murder in a murder-case). Such ‘artefacts’ submitted so often to the media as ‘proof for Evolution’ are of academic interest only, and ‘evidence’ in the mind and literature of the palaeontologist’s discipline only. The atheist-evolutionists were not there at the beginning of time (‘millions of years ago’) to be able to know what had transpired and how it had transpired … it is all pure conjecture. The fact that a fossil is discovered does not prove that that particular fossil was the father and mother of anything. For all we know it may have been infertile, or it may have never married. Or it may have delivered a still-birth. How can the evolutionist ever know?

    5. Our Constitution guarantees freedom-of-religion. In terms of this august principle the atheist-evolutionists are free to ‘believe in Evolution’ as they so often are fond to exclaim. But they should come clean and admit that ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is nothing more than a philosophical belief-system at best and a religious-cult at worst.

    6. Our objection to ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is basically threefold:

    a. It denies the existence of a Creator and of (original) Intelligent Design, thereby insulting the intelligence of rational people who will want to know then WHO made ‘Evolution’ in the first place and HOW as well as WHY?

    b. It nullifies with one sweep all moral Biblical (Judeo-Christian) norms, principles and values potentially thus creating a society that does not have any moral compass to adhere to (as is so glaringly apparent in South African society today) which, in the absence of any concrete, tangible Universal Standard, cannot ever know the difference between right and wrong. Who or what will be the norm in a 100% atheist-evolutionist society: Nazism? Fascism? Stalinism? Occultism? Stalinism? Laissez faire, evolutionist Fatalism? Existing Laws will have to be scrapped and will be useless as a norm, as so many of them are founded on ancient (true-and-tested) Judeo-Christian values, Roman-Dutch Law, English Scots Law etc.).

    c. ‘Evolutionary Theory’ romanticises death, destruction and biological nihilism. It is bad news on steroids. Why would any one in his right mind preach such an anti-gospel so glaringly devoid of any positive cosmic anticipation and hope? If Evolution were really true, why do evolutionists want to canvas for adherents at all? What do they hope to achieve with their bleak, black, occult-type ideology of eternal destruction, personal organic biological recycling, no resurrection and an Eternity devoid of any fellowship with a Holy Creator? How will they ever in Eternity engineer the forgiveness of their sins without a Redeemer and a Messiah? ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is an ideological house-of-card established on perverse and false pseudo-scientific hopes and all kinds of duplicitous, treacherous innuendoes and messages. If I were an evolutionist, I would hang my head in shame for having to preach a message so colourless, irrational and devoid of the Eternal Hope of friendship with our holy redeemer, Jesus Christ.

  6. Darwin christ
    USA
    November 12, 2013, 1:13 pm

    Darwins theory is correct. The science is there. The bibles story correct. The places are there.

    Man evolved over billions of years to become ancient ape like creatures. God created us using his genetic material, and the creatures genetic material. The missing link is known as genetic splicing. Both parties are correct. Both parties need to work together to solve the ultimate question.

  7. Elizabeth King
    Cambridge, England
    November 12, 2013, 9:23 am

    Well done to Pedro Boshoff, the exploration team leader. In the 1980′s he told me there are hominins in those caves, but just needed someone to believe him!! Congratulations!!

  8. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 11, 2013, 1:21 pm

    1. The Culture of Insults & Name-calling. Incredibly the insults form the atheist-evolutionist block just keep on pouring in, but there behaviour comes as no surprise at all. A wise man, that humble carpenter from Nazareth, infinitely wiser than Darwin, has once remarked: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So, if any reader in his heart thinks he has evolved from an ape, be my guest. I have noticed this single common denominator, and that is that atheist-evolutionists cannot engage in debates or polemics without ‘devolving’ to crude insults and name-calling. I sometimes wonder where this remarkable genetic strain come from? (Fascinating!).
    2. ‘Evolutionary Theory’ (at best) is a treasure-hunt without a treasure … an abortive metaphysical research project (in plain English: A wild goose chase without a goose). At worst, it is a diabolical religious cult with all the trappings that go with such a cult, i.e. (i) the theology (‘Evolution’), (ii) the messiah (Darwin) and (iii) the scriptures (‘On The Origin of the Species or the Natural Selection of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’).

    3. In a previous post I have said that the culture with atheist-evolutionists to depict hominids as darker-skinned cave-dwelling savages as racist hate speech. I have also pointed out to the readers the racist slurs in the white-supremacist Charles Darwin’s book: ‘On The Origin of the Species or the Natural Selection of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’. Nobody has objected to those serious indictments, so I suppose I can safely assume that the readers have all concurred with the charges of racism against Darwin, his racist ‘Evolutionary Theory’ and his racist book? (Thank you, much obliged. I knew you would concur).

    4. Why do Atheist-evolutionists always say, “I believe in Evolution!”? It is because the Theory is a religion (or a system of philosophy) not a science. A science is something that can be observed and measured. As ‘Evolution’ has never been observed and measured in Nature, its adherents have no choice but to invariably fall back on, “I believe in Evolution!” (PS. This is atypical religious terminology, not atypical scientific terminology).

    5. Test your Evolution-I.Q: Would the reader have Evolution fold his paper-airplane, or would he rather do it for himself (I thought so!). So then, if Evolution cannot even fold a little 30 cm long paper-airplane (from ‘something’) how could Evolution have made a Universe 30 billion light-years in diameter (from ‘nothing’?).

  9. Jan Viljoen
    Pretoria, South Africa
    November 10, 2013, 11:35 pm

    Piet Stassen is ‘n leek (palooka in slang, mamparra in Fanagalo).

    I see now that John Hawks is also flying in to watch over proceedings.
    Go boys!!
    DNA and fossils rule!!

  10. Rick Hunter
    rising star expedition
    November 10, 2013, 2:19 pm

    I can assure you that these fossils were not planted. If we were to have planted them it would most definitely been in a safer and more accessible location.

  11. Michael Hopkins
    November 8, 2013, 10:46 pm

    National Geographic really should, as others have noted, ban creationist apologetics from this blog. There are plenty of appropriate places for it. This is not one of them.

    But in case NG does not want to clean house (and NG is welcome to delete this if they also delete the creationist trash) then the lies of the creationists should not be unopposed. Mr. Stassen’s “facts” are anything but. Even quick checks will reveal quite a bit of falsehoods. For instance, Scotland Yard did not uncover the Piltdown hoax. It was Kenneth Oakley who primarily responsible for it.

    He claims that Lucy is an ordinary pigmy chimp skeleton which can easily be refuted by looking at the skeletons. It is very easy to tell the difference.

    Nebraska Man. Talk about utter desperation to bring this up. This was in the 1920s. A scientist proposed that a tooth might be a hominid. A few years later it was refuted and revealed to be a tooth of a peccary (and not a pig). Sounds like science worked.

    What Orce Man is under dispute. It is a scrap of a fossil that utterly no one would care about if it was not the oldest hominid in the region _if_ it is a hominid which is disputed by many scientists.

    The notion that neandertals had rickets is utterly preposterous, it is directly contrary to the skeletal evidence. And what is more there are hundreds of Neandertal specimens, the notion every last one of them was diseased is absurd. That they were a distinct population has been shown by DNA sequencing which also shows that most people have some Neandertal ancestors.

    So on and so forth.

  12. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 8, 2013, 2:38 pm

    As expected, the insults just keep on pouring in from the side of those who believe they hail from apes (Remember: “As a man believeth in his heart, so is he”). I’ve been raised that good manners play the ball, not the man. Nevertheless:

    1. Sorry, but I cannot buy the myth that God used ‘Evolution’ with which to create and maintain the Universe … what kind of a cruel ‘god’ would use ‘survival of the fittest’ as a biological tool to create the species? This reasoning in circles (‘circulus et probando’ ) is as absurd as the oxymorons of ‘rap music’, ‘satanic church’ and ‘free gift’ (“Why did the rhino survive?’/”Because it is the fittest”); (“Why is it the fittest?”/Because it survived!”). They call this science? So, either the Creator made the Universe, or ‘Evolution’ made the Universe. It can’t be both … oil and water does not mix.

    2. The Genesis Creation Record and the atheistic ‘Theory of Evolution’ is theologically as well as historically totally incompatible … period. East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet. I also used to believe in Evolution (years ago when I was still ‘evolving’) but once one has escaped this most vicious of all modern, racist, religious cults, there is no turning back. What an insult to God to even remotely suggest that He could have been involved with anything as brutal, cruel, despicable and morally reprehensible as the heartless evolutionary processes suggested by Evolutionary Theory. There is no such thing as ‘Theistic’ or ‘Creative Evolution’ … it is a total and laughable contradiction in terms. ‘Evolution’ automatically assumes a brainless process devoid of any intelligence and premeditated planning. Yet, ironically, the evolutionists cannot plan their curricula, textbooks, symposiums, campuses, debates, books, magazines, websites and blogs, including this blog, without a great deal of intelligence and intelligent input … weird. If there were no such thing as Intelligent Design, why do we bother to send our kids to school?
    3. So many Evolution-forgeries have passed through the evolutionists’ hands that nobody can any longer believe anything they have to say. There are too many of them to elaborate upon, but a few examples are:

    a. Piltdown Man: Forgery exposed by Scotland Yard with the help of (among others) the South African academic Prof. J.S. Weiner.

    b. Lucy: Found to be the bones of an ordinary pygmy chimp.

    c. Nebraska Man: The ‘profile’ made up from (guess what?): The single tooth of a pig.

    d. Orce Man: Found to be the skull of a 4-month old donkey (The evolutionists have become so desperate that they are using donkey-skulls to prove that human-skulls have ‘evolved’ from ape-skulls’).

    e. Neanderthal Man: Ordinary man, probably very old, with all kinds of Vitamin D deficiency diseases, rickets, diabetes etc. Go to any busy mall on a Saturday morning and you will probably see a range of frightening ‘neo-neanderthal’ types shopping there that will probably put the ancient Neanderthals to flight. It probably has all got to do with bone development and bone-degenaration over many decades.

    f. Archaeopteryx (the so-called bird/dinosaur connection): Proved a forgery in 1985 by six of the top scientists in Britain (including Sir Fred Hoyle).

    g. Coelecanth: The evolutionists’ famous ‘living index fossil’ (What on Earth is a ‘living fossil’?). Discovered in 1938 swimming in the seawaters off the east coast of Africa/Mozambique, yet according to the evolutionists, it went ‘extinct’ millions of years ago. (The anatomy of the fossil in the museum does not differ from the live specimen, although there are millions of years of age-difference between the two. Why no difference?).

    4. Let’s humour the evolutionists and assume that ‘Evolution’ is true. That begs the following questions:

    a. Then WHO made ‘Evolution’? Did ‘Evolution’ itself make ‘Evolution’? Amazing … Miracle #1.

    b. WHO made the raw materials or building blocks (atoms etc.) with which ‘Evolution’ made ‘Evolution’? Did ‘Evolution’ itself make the prerequisite raw materials? Amazing … Miracle #2.

    c. WHO made the laws of physics with which the Universe was established and is maintained and managed? Did ‘Evolution’ also make the laws of physics? (Laws of Gravity; Electromagnetic Spectrum; Periodic Table of the Elements etc.). Amazing … Miracle #3.

    d. Then WHO made the two sexes (genders) in e.g. humans. Did ‘Evolution’ make that too? Amazing … Miracle #4.

    5. Let’s humour the evolutionists and assume that humans have evolved from apes or at least from a species which shared a common ancestor with humans. That implies of necessity that the atheist-evolutionists commenting on this blog have all evolved from apelike ancestors via ‘hominid’ precursors to humans. Now in all sincerety: If this were really true, why should I listen to what such a person has to say? Can his/her derivative (‘evolved’) apelike brain (and the ideas emanating from such a mind) be trusted? If evolutionists really had evolved from apelike ancestors, the last thing I would want to do is listen to what they have to say (Do the math). I would not even trust such a person with my car’s keys.

    6. The similarities between humans and primates in terms of anatomy should be correctly ascribed to the sharing of a mutual Creator, not to a mutual ancestor. Please do not insult God (unless we are not referring to the same ‘god’) by trying to ascribe ‘Evolution’ to His incomparable mind and holy character.

    7. Sir Arthur Keith, an evolutionist and not a creationist, has established, on behalf of the evolutionists, that skull-capacities below 750 cc. (an international evolutionist norm known as ‘Keith’s Rubicon’) are the skulls of apes, not humans or hominids as precursors to humans (Humans = above 750 cc.). The Australopithecus skulls are below 750 cc., so how can they be accepted as precursors to humans? All Australopithecus skulls probably are the skulls of apes.

    8. As far as I can ascertain no respectable court of Law in South Africa will accept the fossils and fragments, that evolutionists present as proof for ‘Evolution’, as prima facie legal evidence for ‘Evolution’ in Court. The so-called ‘proof’ is only of theoretical academic significance only, and if a medical doctor or an advocate or dentist were to make the claims that the WITS- palaeontologists are making in connection with their fossil-finds, they would have been struck off the medical or legal roll years ago. The UN, the Government, WITS University and the curators and patrons of the Maropeng ‘Cradle of Humankind’ ought to be ashamed of themselves for misleading the public on this issue. They also ought to be ashamed for converting such a remarkable archaeologically-sacred site, with such charming historical significance, into such a shamelessly commercialised theme park in order to create revenue for its masters, and that on such sketchy and skimpy ‘empirical’ evidence.

    9. A man called Richard Cranshaw once remarked: “That which force cannot accomplish fraud will devise.” It will take much more than a yellow, unsanitary fragment of a pig’s molar or a donkey’s skull to convince me that humans have ‘evolved’ from apes … it’s still the same old freaking fairy tale of the frog changing into a prince.

  13. Johan de Villiers
    Pretoria
    November 8, 2013, 12:00 pm

    Dear National Geographic.

    Can’t we please get rid of the internet trolls who are bent on arguing for the sake of hearing their own voice (or at least re-reading their own silly comments over and over, thinking they’re grand).
    Piet Stassen, if you don’t believe in evolution, why not go and spend your days browsing the Creation Museum’s facebook page… maybe you’ll find some like-minded people there. The rest of us, who actually believe the fossils at the Cradle of Humankind aren’t just some “misinterpretation” of natural size differences, or “a frog turning into a prince over millions of years” or some “racist” ideology, would like to discuss matters without your continued creationist trolling…

  14. Cave Girl
    Gauteng
    November 8, 2013, 6:15 am

    Congratulations to all involved – SO glad the mining that happend in the cave all those years ago left this section safe.
    Steven and Rick really admire your love of caving and willingness to climb into small holes, and respecting what you find in them!! The rest of the SEC team – great organization. I am really excited about being part of this!

  15. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 8, 2013, 3:02 am

    When a frog changes into a prince, it is a fairy tale, but when the same frog changes into a prince over millions of years, it is evolutionary science … amazing! ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is a fairy tale for grown-ups who refused to grow up. The well-known evolutionist, Sir Arthus Keith has established a scientific principle i.e. that all skull-capacities below 750 cc usually belong to apes, and those above 750 cc. belong to humans. This scientific norm is internationally accepted and is known as ‘Keith’s Rubicon’. The Australopithecus skulls are below 750 cc. so where does that leave us? Gerald Duffert’s studies have anyway shown that those skull-sizes have been inflated artificially to bolster the pro-evolutionist argument. At the 1966 Wistar symposium some of the cream of the world’s mathematicians have already concluded that ‘Evolution’ is mathematically (in other words, scientifically) unfeasible, so the atheist-evolutionists commenting on this blog are all, technically speaking, 47 years behind the times. Don’t throw science at me; some of the world’s most brilliant scientists do not believe in Evolution. What bugs me most about the evolutionists is their insipid racism … why are the so-called ‘hominids’ always depicted as darker-skinned, black or brown cave-dwelling savages, but modern man is depicted as a lighter-skinned, agricultural genius? What an insult to our indigenous peoples! No wonder Darwin’s 1859-book was titled: ‘On The Origin of Species or the Natural Selection of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Notice the racist slur in ‘favoured races’ (Darwin was a white supremacist). What did the notorious Nazis Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Richard Heydrich and Ernst Kaltenbrunner during WWII all have in common? (They all believed in EVOLURION). Tip: Make sure you do not ‘evolve’ in the wrong direction.

  16. Mariette harcombe
    Pretoria
    November 8, 2013, 2:22 am

    Piet Stassen

    You are clearly confused between the two Cradles.
    No ‘sensible’ (as you call it) person refers to the fertile Crescent in the Middle East as the Cradle of Humankind, as it is known as the Cradle of Civilization.
    There is a marked difference between the two, as the former refers to the place of origin and evolution of mankind (biologically and anatomically, as a species), while the latter refers to the place of origin for human civilization (intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society).
    Just to highlight also, the construction of ziggurats or the creation of astronomical tools has nothing to do with the activities of the first humans, as the first humans were busy with less grand affairs, like carving designs on ochre, making cave paintings and stringing shell beads.
    Your statement clearly shows that you do not quite understand or follow the development of humans from simple cave dwelling hunter-gatherers, to the more sophisticated pyramid builders.
    And by the way, your statement that Maropeng is just an expensive theme park makes me wonder as if you’ve even been to Maropeng. I’ve been there three times, and apart from the underground river (which actually explains the creation of the earth, and thus serves as an educational ride), I have failed to notice the customary high rides, roller coasters and life-sized Disney-style mascots of Mrs Pless (Mr Pless, actually) that traditionally accompany a theme park.
    Your statement “Humans are as little primates as primates are humans”, seals this debate for me, as it shines a light on your total ignorance of biological and genetic evidence. It seems that your statement “just do the maths”, can be handed right back at you. Although we are dealing with biology here, and not maths, so let’s not confuse you even more.
    You say “apes, monkeys and baboons do not turn into humans after six beers”, yet your statements have proven that some humans don’t even require the overindulgence in beer to act like chimps (or should I say chumps).
    As for your typical extremist creationist terminology; “atheist-evolutionists”, linking atheism with evolution, I’d like to mention the following. Just because a person believes in evolution, does not make them an atheist. IN FACT… if you open your mind to the possibility that God had a much grander design in mind when he created the world, and used evolution as one of the many complex mechanisms in our development, you give Him much greater credit as a creator being, than would traditionally be ascribed to him by the Bible.
    The Bible, in its limited understanding of how things work scientifically (especially in geological terms), wants to cram His glorious creation into seven days (or 7000 years as some would have it). Seems like those who can consider both “evolution” and “creation” on an equal, almost complimentary scale, ironically assign more credit to the Creator than you do.

  17. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 7, 2013, 12:26 pm

    American evolution-buffs may think South Africans cynical, but over here we do not share the same enthusiasm for Maropeng as the so-called cradle of humankind the way some people in the USA do. Many of us live within a stone-throw of this theme-park that, in my opinion, has been artificially boosted as the ‘origins of humankind’. Some studies have indicated that the skull-sizes presented as evidence for human evolution (e.g. Australopithecus africanus/Australopithecus plesianthropus) have been artificially inflated to favour the evolutionists’ argument for the Theory of Evolution. Those skulls probably were the skulls of extinct apes; some experts believe that they actually were the skulls of juvenile giant apes. Apparently the juvenile (big) ape present a skull-profile not unlike the human profile. The Sterkfontein Caves are fascinating caves, and historically charming. I just love those caves and have been visiting them since childhood more than 55 years ago, but the site has been desecrated by the scientists’ insistence, together with the government and the UN, on converting it into a exorbitantly expensive, Disney-type theme-park to generate revenue and create jobs for the struggling South African economy. All that fossils anyway prove is that living things eventually die, and those transitional, intermediary fossils (the ‘missing links’ of the popular literature) to prove Evolution have never been found. Evidence for Evolution at Maropeng is so sketchy and skimpy as to be almost non-existent. The region ought to have been strewn with billions of samples of transitional (intermediary) fossils, but where are they? It is all pure conjecture, hence my recommended name for the new fossil-find, i.e. ‘Ridiculipithecus conjecturalensis’. I wish that some readers of NationalGeographic were not so profoundly naive (and also so disgustingly vulgar). Do all atheist-evolutionists resort to insults and name-calling when they encounter opinions that differ from their own? Shame on you guys … maybe you have been ‘evolving’ in the wrong direction?

  18. QJ
    CPT SA
    November 7, 2013, 11:54 am

    Dear Mr Stassen
    But I’ll quite frankly address you as Piet & Koos, although you both don’t even deserve that kind of respect. Seemingly you’re an ancient fossil yourself, judging by your 60 year exploration of the area in concern, most probably in your 4×4 double cab bakkie with that six pack by your side, not even leaving the tarred roads as they are not mapped on your GPS which you bought in Sandton(about 40min from the site of the Rising Star). I own the land on which the excavation is taking place and all your uninformed notions of the situation is in line with your narrow minded view on life.

    The work currently being carried out is a result of years of cave dwelling by the university. Devotion & diligence will eventually always be rewarded.

    Rather encourage and embrace the success of your neighbor!

    I suggest you find some other platform to raise all your cropped up anger towards the wonderful world we live in.

    All the best to the RS team!!

  19. Marlene
    Gauteng
    November 7, 2013, 11:28 am

    Lee Berger should give the credit where it’s due to the two young men who found the fossils a month or more ago that is how he got to know about it,

  20. Robertus Jansen
    South Africa
    November 7, 2013, 9:00 am

    I look forward to following the development of this excavation.
    Dear Piet Stassen – please save your comments for the NG Kerk noticeboard where they will be better appreciated by the congregation (which I might add is all the proof we need that humans are apes).
    Here we are interested in science-fact.

  21. hh
    TswaniToria
    November 7, 2013, 12:22 am

    Interesting comment Piet, “Apes, monkeys and baboons do not turn into humans after six beers.” BUT I have seen a lot of Humans turn into Baboons/Apes/Monkeys after just two beers.

    Good luck to all involved and Three Cheers to SEC – The Greatest Caving Club in the World – who’s members was instrumental in finding this fossils.

  22. Koos
    South Africa
    November 6, 2013, 10:56 pm

    Agree with Piet. These socalled “finds” are plants by the very people who find them – probably after six beers :-)

  23. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 6, 2013, 9:50 pm

    In contrast to USA citizens who live thousands of miles from South Africa, I live within a 40 minutes drive from the Sterkfontein Caves situated at the so-called ‘Maropeng: Cradle of Humankind’ UN World Heritage Site. I have been visiting those caves since 1954 when I was only seven years old, and until today have not seen any empirical evidence of any so-called ‘evolution’ in those caves … no transitional (intermediary) fossils, no ‘missing links’ (I suspect it is truly missing), no meaningful ‘prehistoric’ artefacts, no ‘prehistoric’ rock paintings etc. The international community of science-enthusiasts (myself included) are being duped by the South African based WITS UNIVERSITY, patron-saint of the first church of ‘Maropeng’, who had converted the site into an exorbitantly expensive revenue-producing (Disney-type) theme-park. Like so many others the world over, many South Africans are beginning to regard ‘Maropeng’ as just another (tax-supported) religious-cult exploiting tourists to the site as a job-creating gimmick to bolster votes for the current (failing) regime (Elections again due in 2014). Recommended name for the ‘new’ fossil-find? ‘Ridiculipithecus conjecturalensis’. Definition of an evolutionist: A person who made himself millions of years ago and eventually evolved into everybody else on Earth, including his wife. By the way, how scientific would it be for NationalGeographic to refuse the views of nonconformist readers? Please think about that.

  24. Godfried Kruger
    Pretoria
    November 6, 2013, 6:41 pm

    What an extraordinary find. I wish them all of the best and wait in anticipation of the findings.

    National Geographic, please do not allow people to make trolling political statements that is non related. It is disgusting.

  25. Seriously
    USA
    November 6, 2013, 3:39 pm

    Why do we have to suffer through ignorant comments on NatGeo pages? Can NatGeo please stop bronze-age trolls from criticizing science. Please, NatGeo, disable ALL commenting.

  26. Piet Stassen
    South Africa
    November 6, 2013, 8:44 am

    All the hype about the so-called Cradle of Humankind’ boggles the mind. Why did it not feature in the ‘Modern Seven Wonders of the World Competition’? Is it because the real cradle of humankind is still considered by both sensible people (scientists as well as the lay public) to be the ‘Fertile Crescent’ in the Middle East? Go to Maropeng: Where are the ancient ziggurats, astronomical tools and paraphernalia associated with the activities of the first ‘humans’? Where are the ancient mathematical and first primitive language- and judicial-systems? Where are the ancient clay-tablets, cuneiform-writing and hieroglyphs? Where are the billions of missing intermediary and transitional fossils representing the myriad of ‘evolving’ stages between the earliest primates through the ‘hominids’ to the first modern humans? Maropeng: Cradle of Humankind or exorbitantly expensive job-creating, lucrative, unethical government-supported, revenue-spinning theme park? Humans are as little primates as primates are humans. Just do the math: Biologically and spiritually the two ‘species’ differ by light-years. Apes, monkeys and baboons do not turn into humans after six beers.