When was Mrs Ples found?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

I remember the first time I laid eyes on Mrs Ples. It was back in April 1947, when Dr Robert Broom, a renowned paleontologist from the Transvaal Museum of Natural History, unveiled this extraordinary skull to the world. The discovery took place at the Sterkfontein Caves, located in the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dr Broom, a man of great passion and curiosity, had been tirelessly excavating in the caves for years in search of ancient human remains. And finally, his perseverance paid off when he came across the skull that would come to be known as ‘Mrs Ples’.

The name itself is quite intriguing, as it was derived from the term ‘Plesianthropus transvaalensis’, which means ‘near-human from Transvaal’. This fossil, believed to be around 2.3 million years old, played a significant role in our understanding of human evolution.

At the time of the discovery, Mrs Ples was hailed as one of the most complete and well-preserved skulls of its kind. Its importance cannot be overstated, as it provided valuable insights into our early ancestors and their place in the evolutionary tree.

Although Mrs Ples was initially thought to belong to the genus Australopithecus, subsequent research and advancements in paleoanthropology have led to some debate and reclassification. It is now believed to be a member of the species Australopithecus africanus, a distant relative of humans.

This incredible find not only shed light on our evolutionary history but also put the Sterkfontein Caves on the map as a significant archaeological site. The caves continue to be a source of fascination for scientists and visitors alike, with ongoing excavations and discoveries further enriching our knowledge of human origins.

Looking back at that momentous unveiling in 1947, I can’t help but marvel at the dedication and vision of Dr Robert Broom. His passion for unearthing the secrets of our past has left an indelible mark on the field of paleoanthropology. And thanks to his efforts, Mrs Ples continues to captivate and inspire us, serving as a testament to the wonders of human evolution.