Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News



Taung Child Skull

19 Jun 2014
Share on Facebook

Where do we come from?

Professor Lee Berger, Dr. Bernhard Zipfel (University of Witwatersrand) and Dr. Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum London), reveal how the Taung child skull, helped us answer that most fundamental of questions. (<i>Audio courtesy of Radiolab Podcasts</i>).

When Josephine Salmons paid a visit to the Izod family home, she noticed a primate skull that had been discovered at a limeworks near Taung in South Africa. This visit was to set in motion a story that would fundamentally change our view about humanity's origins.


Raymond Dart Taung Child Skull
Raymond Dart with the
Taung Child Skull

Josephine was a student of anatomist Raymond Dart at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, upon showing him the skull he recognised it as a significant find. Dart asked the limeworks company to send any more fossil discoveries they may unearth, to him so that they could be examined further.

Robert Young a geologist conveyed a number of fossilised primate skulls that had been collected by a quarry miner. Dart examined the assortment of skulls and found a fossilised endocast of a skull, which showed the impression of a complex brain, and matched it to a fossilised skull of a juvenile primate, which had a shallow face and fairly small teeth.


Taung Child Skull Australopithecus africanus
Taung Child Skull

After completing a full examination of the skull, Dart published the discovery in 1925, describing the new species of Australopithecus in the journal Nature. It became known as the Taung Child.

The theory that the skull belonged to a new genus was identified by comparing it to skulls of chimpanzees. The Taung child endocast was larger than that of a fully grown chimpanzee. The forehead of a chimpanzee receded to form a heavy browridge with jutting jaw; while the Taung child's forehead recedes, but there is no browridge.

The Taung child is estimated to be 2.5 million years old. Originally believed to have been a monkey or ape, Raymond Dart became aware of the fact (through studying the foramen magnum) that the skull would have been positioned directly above the spine, therefore indicating an upright posture, a trait seen in humans, but not other primates.

Comparisons of the Taung Child to that of an equivalent 9-year-old child, indicate a growth rate to adolescence for Australopithecus africanus, more similar to that of modern apes like chimpanzees, than to that of modern Homo sapiens. Intermediate species such as Homo ergaster and Homo erectus are thought to have gone through growth rates intermediate between Homo sapiens and apes.

An announcement in 2006 stated that the Taung Child was most likely killed by an eagle or large predatory bird, a conclusion reached by comparing the likeness in damage to the eye sockets and skull, to that of modern primates known to have been killed by eagles.

Find out more about humanity's origins at the Bradshaw Foundation Origins Archive


Bradshaw FoundationAboutiShopBook ReviewSite MapMailing ListDonateFacebookTwitterContact
If you have enjoyed visiting this section of the website please consider adding a link
Bradshaw Foundation © MMXI
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Privacy Policy Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Birnin Kudu Rock Art Center Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Moab, Utah Clovis First Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Avebury Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Introduction Peterborough Petroglyphs Western Canadian Rock Art Writing-On-Stone Wuikinuxv Territory Dinosaur Provincial Park Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Rouffignac Cave Portable Art Defining Rock Art Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Preservation & Education Dr. V. S. Wakankar Articles on India Rock Art Contemporary Art Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Scandinavian Rock Art Archive Scandinavian Introduction Alta Rock Art Norway Rock Art in Finland Tanum Rock Art Sweden Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Banksy Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation