Did you know?
The Taung Skull site forms part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
The Taung Heritage Route marks a location of significant scientific importance, for it was here, in 1924, encased in limestone in the Buxton quarry, that the 2.5-million-year-old fossilised skull of a hominid child was revealed.
Professor Raymond Dart of the University of the Witwaterrand identified the skull as belonging to an early hominid, or ancient human ancestor, and named it Australopithecus africanus, or 'southern ape of Africa'.
The discovery of the Taung Skull was acknowledged as one of the most significant scientific events of the day. Dart’s scientific classification promoted lively debate among academics in the field because it was evidence that human ancestors had lived on the continent more than a million years earlier than previously believed, which gave credence to the theory that humankind originated in Africa.
Recent evidence has solved the mystery of the three-year-old child's death. It was most likely killed by a large bird of prey, probably an eagle. Looking up from the valley at the site's location, you can almost imagine these predatory birds riding the overhead thermals.
The Taung Heritage Route encourages visitors to follow in the prehistoric footsteps of our hominid forefathers and gives a rare glimpse into our distant past and the region that early humans once called home.
Spanning more than 45km, the route takes in several natural wonders, such as a limestone waterfall and the Blue Pools, a collection of natural rock basins, streams and caves in a lush river valley.
The Taung skull discovery site is officially part of the UNESCO Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and a monument has been erected to mark the location. Nearby, an abandoned mine tunnel has been opened for exploration, allowing visitors to venture into the age-old limestone mountains.
Located in the Bophirima district of the North West province, the Taung Heritage Route is an initiative of South Africa's National Heritage Council.