miércoles, 2 de junio de 2010


By: Felipe Argote

In times of the beginning of the World Cup, two residents of Johannes burg, South Africa for sure will attend the appointment to show up for the thousands of fans and athletes that will visit their country. They are Mrs Ples and the Taung child. Of course they should be very excited as they were millions of years waiting for a chance to showcase their country.

Mrs Ples is between 2.8 and three million years. This is the most complete skull found so far of Australopithecus africanus. It was discovered in the province of Gauteng, formerly known as Transvaal, in the Sterkfontein area, northeast of Johannesburg. Australupitecus comes from the Latin australis, southern, and Greek pithekos, monkey. The size of his brain was similar to today's so-called Great Apes, but the particular is that they are the first monkeys to move bipedal, which leads them to regard as a phase of pre-evolution of humans. It was discovered in 1947 by Dr Robert Broom, a Scotch who settled for life in South Africa. The name of Mrs Ples have given it first arises from the scientific designation of Plesiantropus transvaalensis or almost human of Transvaal

The Taung child is popularly known as an infant skull 2.3 million years found in Taung, South Africa north of Johannesburg on 1924. His teeth are milk and final teeth were emerging. It is believed that at the time of his death had the age of 3 years. Their discovery is assigned to Raynond Dart, a professor of neuroanatomy at the University of Johannesburg. Their finding gives rise to the modern science of paleontology. In principle, the scientific community refused to consider the discovery of Dart like a hominid close relative of humans. For its racist conception the scientist could not accept that humans emerge from Africa and thus placed the Taung child as an ancestor of chimpanzees. But the weight of the evidence of this and subsequent findings could not only confirm that humanity emerged from this continent. Unlike chimpanzees the bony ridge over the eyes of the Taung child is not separated from the front by a groove, and the canine teeth are much smaller. This puts it in the family of hominids or great apes in which humans are.

The racist British society, was so absorbed in their esteem low, they created one of the biggest fraud in the history of paleontology to support that early humans had emerged in England. Upon discovery of the Taung child in South Africa as the ancestor of humans it was the thesis generally accepted by the scientific community that the link between apes and humans was found in 1908 in Piltdown, England, by Charles Dawson, an amateur archaeologist and Smith Woodward, a famous paleontologist born in Cheshire, England. Woodward was secretary of the Paleontological Society and president of the Geological Society of London. He had been awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society, Lyell Medal and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society, the Linnean Medal of the Linnean Society and the Clarke Medal of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

According to Dawson and Woodward they had found a skull, a tooth and jaw in Sussex in southern England in 1908. In 1953, forty-five years later, a dentist named A. T. Marson has ruled nothing less than the remains had been chemically treated to give the same pitch and the tooth was from a monkey, the skull was of a modern human and the jaw of a chimpanzee.

The respected members of the British scientific society with supine ignorance could not accept what we now take for granted: The first humans emerged in southern Africa.

The broad area where the fossils were located call Mrs Ples and the Taung child is in what has been declared the birthplace of humanity by UNESCO in the world heritage area that includes the Sterkfontein Caves and Wonder Cave and others where have found remains of at least 700 hominids. These hominids are the same group as the Australopithecus afererensis found in Ethiopia in 1974 in the area of the Afar tribe of which the most famous is Lucy, the most complete skeleton of an Australopithecus to confirm his walk erect. They are the ancestors of Homo habilis, whose remains are found primarily in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.

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