South Africa is known as the "Cradle of Humankind." A great variety of early human-ancestor fossil skeletons have been found there. Along the southernmost coast of South Africa, high cliffs hug a rocky coast. This protected the caves in the cliffs from people and animals who could have disturbed artifacts left by early modern humans from 160,000 to 50,000 years ago. Over the last 15 years, scientist Curtis Marean and his team have explored and excavated these caves. They have discovered the earliest evidence of using shellfish for food, fire to heat treat stones for stone tools, and the use of red ochre, possibly for body painting. Using modern scientific techniques, the team is learning more about how these early peoples lived. Follow the team into the caves to learn more.
Images courtesy the international research team SACP4, led by Arizona State University Institute of Human Origins Associate Director Curtis Marean.