A research team led by Professor Michael Chazan, director of the University of Toronto's Archaeology Centre, has discovered the earliest evidence of our cave-dwelling human ancestors at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.
Stone tools found at the bottom level of the cave — believed to be 2 million years old — show that human ancestors were in the cave earlier than ever thought before. Geological evidence indicates that these tools were left in the cave and not washed into the site from the outside world.
Archaeological investigations of the Wonderwerk cave — a South African National Heritage site due to its role in discovering the human and environmental history of the area — began in the 1940s and research continues to this day.
The cave is 139m deep and so big it is said that a wagon and team of oxen could turn around in the entrance. (if you intend to go, there is an information center near the entrance, and you can even get a guide).
From the McGregor Museum description:
"Wonderwerk Cave is an ancient solution cavity, exposed at one end byhillside erosion, and running horizontally for 139 m into the base of a low conical foothill on the eastern flank of the Kuruman Hills. Its geological context is stratified dolomitic limestone of the 2.3 billion year-old Ghaap Plateau Dolomite Formation. Permanent water sources in the area are presently limited to a seep some 5 km to the south on Gakorosa Hill and a large sinkhole now known as Boesmans Gat (meaning "Bushman's waterhole"), about 12 km away.
"Research has shown that bedrock in the front portion of the cave is overlain by 4 m of deposits consisting of almost horizontal layers of wind-blown dust with a variable admixture of roof-slabs. Initial radiocarbon, Uranium-series and palaeomagnetic readings indicate that the uppermost metre of sediments, 45 m in from the cave mouth, spans the past 300 000 years, while extrapolation, based on that result, suggests that the lower levels range back very much further. Palaeomagnetic evidence recently indicated that the base of the sequence may reach back as far as 1.77 to 1.95 million years. If this dating is correct.) The small irregular stone cores and flakes in those lowest levels could be Oldowan. There is archaeological evidence of human occupation in all layers, making this one of the longest inhabited caves on earth."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Researchers Created A Laser Bullet To See What It Would Look Like - And Here It Is
- Great Earthquakes Doubled In The Most Recent 10 Year Period - What That Means
- What Americans Fear Most Isn't Ebola Or Terrorism, It's...
- ECFA Workshop: Planning For The High Luminosity LHC
- The Comets Of Beta Pictoris
- Slavery In America: Back In The Headlines
- As The Weather Changes, So Do Beliefs About Climate Change
- "It would be very useful, if also deeply depressing, to collect all of the statements made by prominent..."
- "Trying to explain this to people can be infuriating. It really is a few of us arguing against..."
- "Hi Valerie, thanks for writing.If you look up papers on existential dread, you should find some..."
- "If journal articles like this one would reference the science and the data instead of the politics..."
- "people, the claim that: 1 you do not believe in god, 2 you exist QED atheists exist is fatuous..."
- National Wildlife Refuge System bans on GMOs and neonics lack transparency, scientific rationale
- Want better sperm? Eat more pesticides
- Beyond universal donors, some people are programed with no blood type at all
- Anti-conventional ag movement spurs Big Ag to look to organic pesticides
- Can people really inherit memories?
- An end to fat shaming? The 50 year DNA mystery of metabolic dysfunction may soon be solved