Curtains to drop on groundbreaking fossil discovery in SA

Details of the discovery which has been kept secret are due to be unveiled at the Cradle of Humankind.

Entrance to the Maropeng Visitors Centre. Picture: Maropeng.

MAROPENG - In the next few hours the world will learn more about a historic discovery which has been made in South Africa.

Details of a significant fossil discovery have been kept secret for years and are due to be unveiled at Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind at 11am today.

[SPECIAL FEATURE] At 10:30am we'll find out about a significant discovery for humanity. Go to http://t.co/yL8BrTMa7P pic.twitter.com/PW61GFAAgl

Shortly thereafter, a global embargo on all information relating to the find will be released and a month-long public exhibition will open.

Professor Lee Berger led the expedition that unearthed a discovery, which now looks set to raise deep questions about what it means to be human.

"We never imagined finding anything like this."

Berger, a paleo-anthropologist, says he feels privileged to be at the centre of this historic discovery.

He says it's gratifying to see the interest taken in this development.

"I feel very privileged, I think my colleagues feel very privileged. We also feel very privileged at the attention that the public and media has given to this scientific story because human origins isn't just a scientific story, it's our science story."

Berger, says the discovery was made in September 2013 and has been kept secret until now.

He says the years spent researching the finding have been worth it.

Discoveries like this in the past have fundamentally changed our understanding of human ancestry.

"What we're announcing today is the product of one of the largest scientific endeavours ever to occur in the history of palaeontology, bringing scientists from all over the world to study not only the fossils themselves but also the context of the fossils."

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is going to receive a private viewing, and then will address the nation about the significance of the discovery.

Wits University has described the find as a groundbreaking discovery of international importance.

Scientists from around the world began arriving in South Africa on Monday and will today join ministers and other guests for the big reveal.