Today's Big Stories

History in the making at Maropeng today

A world heritage site like no other

John Robbie is broadcasting live from Maropeng a'Africa (the official visitor's centre of the Cradle of Humankind). The excitement and anticipation is palpable as major new fossil discoveries will be announced this morning at 11am.

To give background to the development of Maropeng, John spoke to Board member of Maropeng Africa and Trustee of Cradle of Humankind, Trish Hanekom.

Said Hanekom:

There are some things that everybody in the world is interested in and one of them is ‘how did we all come to be here? This world heritage site tells us more about the human condition.

Trish Hanekom, Board member of Maropeng Africa and Trustee of Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage site in 1999, due to the wealth of hominid fossils discovered there. Hanekom was responsible for the Cradle of Humankind being nominated by the Gauteng Provincial Government as one of South Africa's first three world heritage sites.

A scientist's dream come true

John also spoke to Paleoanthropologist and Professor at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of Witwatersrand and a National Geographic Explorer (in residence), Lee Berger.

The award-winning researcher, author and speaker, Prof Berger led the two expeditions that discovered and recovered the fossils that will make history, ahead of today's announcement.

We [as scientists] spend our whole lives waiting for an announcement like this. We are privileged because of the attention media and public is giving to this announcement. Human origins is not just a science story, it's our story.

Professor Lee Berger, Paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer (in residence)

What we're announcing today is a product of our biggest scientific endeavours in the field of paleontology.

Professor Lee Berger, Paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer (in residence)

Listen to the conversation below:

Prof Berger's explorations into human origins sin Africa date back to over two and a half decades which have resulted in many notable discoveries.

Expect a major boost for tourism

A good friend of Prof Berger's Terry Garcia spoke to John this morning about the excitement around the announcement. Garcia is Chief Science and Exploration Officer for the National Geographic Society. Garcia said he spoke to Prof Berger about the partnership on the discovery, his excitement was 'off the chart'.

Garcia said:

This has the potential to significantly increase your ability as a country to enhance and maintain tourism.

Terry Garcia, Chief Science and Exploration Officer for the National Geographic Society

Garcia said that this discovery will be on the cover story of the National Geographic magazine and have a 2-hour TV special, as well as social media on this discovery.

Garcia said that he has been involved in a number of discoveries, one of the projects he is most proud of was working with the Afghanistan government to find a '70s treasure of royal graves with solid jewelry. He puts this new fossil discovery on the same scale as that discovery.

Experience this event

The information on how you will be able to experience this historical event will be on the Maropeng website. A 25% discount will be applied for the month - prices of tickets will be at R120 for adults and R65 for children. There will also be combined tickets' discount for school groups.

You can listen in on Redi's show at 11 am for the announcement, or watch the live stream the event on streaming.wits.ac.za

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