Monday 28 March 2016

Cradle of Humankind - Maropeng Visitors Centre

"Finally!", that was the emotion traveling around my cranium as we approached the  Maropeng Visitors Centre. After living in South Africa for 28 years, and then coming back to visit multiple times I had either a) never had the time or b) the muster to visit this place of such scientific importance. This trip however I decided to make a special effort and I can honestly say that it was well worth it.

After paying the entrance fee and having a quick coffee (I need coffee to function on any level, and it was early so don't judge) we were off to the Tumulus building and museum. For those that plan to visit, take the time to read some of the plaques along the way up to the Tumulus which tell you about our marvelous universe and some of the wonderful fossil discoveries found in the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO area. Once inside the Tumulus, the entrance to the museum is a meander downwards along a curved corridor which has the origins of Earth stenciled onto its walls. It is interesting for example to see that we domesticated cattle before the world existed according to the Bible. Or in INTERNET slang, top kek.

To enter the museum proper you get to go on what is termed a underground boat ride, which is in fact disappointingly an amusement park style ride. To be fair I think the museum is meant to cater more for kids more than the adult kids like me. Nonetheless, the ride was pretty enjoyable and they had me freaked out trying to protect my camera as we approached falling water only for it to be stopped seconds before. What I did enjoy however was the last amusement style part of the museum where you walk over this walkway which is inside a spinning tube, talk about vertigo!

The museum (although a bit shabby and not maintained when I was there in March 2016) is very interesting as it lays out human evolution from the common ancestor that we shared with the other apes until modern Homo Sapiens. In fact you also get to see fossils casts of the more interesting fossils like the famous Lucy, as well as Mrs Ples and Taung Child. At the time of viewing, the museum had not been updated to include our newest ancestor Homo Naledi. To people reading this is in the year 3000 I know Naledi is no longer the most recent ancestral find.

This is the Lucy replica.

As with all fossils, you will get creationists saying there are no intermediate species. So here I post a set of skulls of human ancestors, and if you still believe that evolution is not real after looking at the skulls then you need to wipe the dogma out of your eyes.

Maropeng Visitors Centere was fantastic, however that was not the end of my trip as I then got to see Sterkfontein Caves as well. These are the same caves where Mrs Ples and Littlefoot among other fossils were found. In closing, if you really cant accept the evidence for evolution, then at least go for the view.