New hominid species discovered at Cradle of Humankind

Scientists have erected a large protective structure around a cave at the Cradle of Humankind.

FILE: Job Kibii with Professor Lee Berger at the Malapa Cave site. Picture: Maropeng.

MAROPENG - Scientists have erected a large protective structure around a cave where fossils of early humans were discovered at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Wits Professor Lee Berger says the Malapa Fossil Site, where fossils more than two million years old have been discovered, contains a newly discovered species of hominid and will serve to advance scientific research into early human development.

Burger, who discovered the Sediba fossil in 2008, adds the Malapa site still holds precious material and that's why it had to be protected.

"It is a critical wilderness area with some of the most important fossil discoveries on the planet."

The site has produced arguably one of the most complete assemblages of early human ancestors ever found.

Given its heritage value, Gauteng tourism CEO Dawn Robertson says they hope to turn the Malapa site into an attractive tourism area for a high-end market by December.

There are plans to install CCTV cameras around the excavation site to enable tourists to watch live as fossils are recovered.