TAUNG FOSSIL SITE
National Heritage Site declaration: 21 May 2004
World Heritage Site decleration: 02 December 1999
Taung Palaeonthropological Fossil site in the North West Province is of outstanding significance nationally and internationally as it is the first site in the world where a member of the species Australopithecus africanus was found, which is among the most important early human fossils ever discovered. The find, called the Taung Child, consists of a fossilised skull and lower jaw of a young individual with some human like characteristics. It also shows the earliest evidence of human upright, two-legged walking.
Unfortunately, no further fossil hominins were found as most of the area was destroyed by lime-mining, illustrating the importance of protecting a site. However, other fossils such as some important fossil baboons were found, which increased the understanding of the Taung geology and taphonomy significantly, and recent studies showed that the approximately three-year-old child may have been killed and eaten by a large bird of prey.