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Quiz about Tales of the Cradle of Humankind
Quiz about Tales of the Cradle of Humankind

Tales of the Cradle of Humankind Quiz


Where exactly is the Cradle of Humankind? For years, scientists believed that it was located in either Asia or Europe. But no! It is really found in the modern-day country of South Africa. Join me for a visit!

A multiple-choice quiz by ponycargirl. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
ponycargirl
Time
4 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
388,991
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
487
Awards
Top 10% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 196 (2/10), Guest 196 (2/10), Guest 41 (4/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Near which city in South Africa, which is also the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, is the Cradle of Humankind located? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. What geological feature in the Cradle of Humankind helped make it possible to find fossils in the area? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. What famous discovery was made at the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. At the present time, "Australopithecus africanus" is considered to be one of our oldest human ancestors. What feature of the hominin most closely links it to humans? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. What fossil site in South Africa was added to the Cradle of Humankind because of an important discovery made there in 1924? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. A nearly complete australopithecine fossil was discovered in Sterkfontein Cave in 1994. What was it named, due to the size of the ankle bones? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Which of the following hominin species has NOT been found in the area called the Cradle of Humankind? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. The ability to control the use of fire was invaluable to early hominins. Can you name the species that lived in the Cradle of Mankind that was able to control fire? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. At the present time, what is believed by some scientists to be the significance of the discovery in the Cradle of Humankind which is classified as "Australopithecus sediba". Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. The most famous discovery made in the Cradle of Humankind was Lucy.



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Near which city in South Africa, which is also the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, is the Cradle of Humankind located?

Answer: Johannesburg

The area known as the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site, is approximately thirty-one miles northwest of Johannesburg. Covering a region of about 150 square miles, the terrain is described as a rolling grassland with rock outcrops and rivers.

It is called the Cradle of Humankind because of the large number of fossils belonging to the Hominin family that have been found, which includes humans and some species long extinct. The term "hominin" is used to describe a group consisting of all modern humans, extinct humans, and immediate ancestors. Considering the vast scope of prehistory, the Cradle of Humankind is a newly found area, with the first discoveries being made there in the 1920s.
2. What geological feature in the Cradle of Humankind helped make it possible to find fossils in the area?

Answer: Limestone Caves

Life was extremely dangerous for the early hominin. Picture one of them being attacked and dragged into a cave by a wild animal, falling into a hole, or dying in a cave with the body just being left behind. What typically could have happened then was that the body became encased in limestone and other sediments, which created very good conditions for the chemical reaction necessary for fossilization over time, as well as the preservation of the fossils.

At the present time there are twelve sites in the Cradle of Humankind that have yielded over 900 hominin fossils.
3. What famous discovery was made at the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind?

Answer: Mrs. Ples

The many discoveries (over 500) made at the Sterkfontein Caves have helped reinforce the fact that human ancestors evolved in Africa, rather than Europe or Asia as had been previously thought. In 1947, Robert Broom and John T. Robinson discovered Mrs. Ples, which is still the most complete skull ever found of an "Australopithecus africanus" in South Africa.

The reason some of the skull is missing is because dynamite and a pickax (Yikes!) were used in the excavation, causing considerable damage to the artifact. Dating to about 2.3 million years ago, originally it was categorized as an "Plesianthropus transvaalensis", hence the nickname that was given to the fossil by one of the group of workers.

By the way, after further study, many scientists believe that Mrs. Ples should be renamed Mr. Ples!
4. At the present time, "Australopithecus africanus" is considered to be one of our oldest human ancestors. What feature of the hominin most closely links it to humans?

Answer: Upright walking

"Australopithecus africanus" is considered to be one of the oldest human ancestors because of the evidence of bipedalism, or upright walking. The creature, about four feet tall, still displayed more ape-like characteristics, such as having arms a bit longer than legs, a smaller brain, and curved fingers, which may indicate habitual tree climbing.

As is typical in the case of classifying like discoveries, paleontologists do not always agree on whether there is a direct link to humans or an indirect one. Fossils of the species have only been found in southern Africa.
5. What fossil site in South Africa was added to the Cradle of Humankind because of an important discovery made there in 1924?

Answer: Taung

The Taung site is actually about 250 miles away from Sterkfontein Cave and the area known as the Cradle of Humankind. It was added to the site in 2005, along with Makapan, and together all of the areas are called the Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs. In 1924 a skull that was later named Taung Child, was found and taken to an anthropologist named Raymond Dart. He was the one who classified it as "Australopithecus africanus", and wrote that it was related to modern humans. The significance of this find? This was when the search for extinct ancestors of humans was finally directed to Africa.

One of the interesting stories connected to the Taung Child skull was the theorized cause of death. It is believed that the child, probably around the age of nine, was killed by some sort of predatory bird. There are marks on the skull that are consistent with damage done by eagle talons on other creatures. So if you have heard a story about a large bird snatching up the hominin child and taking it to a cave to eat as an explanation for how these fossils ended up in caves, it is probably in reference to Taung Child!
6. A nearly complete australopithecine fossil was discovered in Sterkfontein Cave in 1994. What was it named, due to the size of the ankle bones?

Answer: Little Foot

Found in a limestone deposit that had almost turned to concrete, it took fifteen years to extract the fossils belonging to Little Foot. Four ankle bones confirmed that Little Foot was able to walk upright, and was, therefore an australopithecine; there is still some debate, however, as to what species would be its correct classification.

Some say it is an early "Australopithecus africanus", and other say it should be classified differently. A dating technique used in 2015 estimated that the specimen was approximately 3.67 million years old, but earlier studies concluded it was 2.2 million years old.
7. Which of the following hominin species has NOT been found in the area called the Cradle of Humankind?

Answer: Neanderthal

"Paranthropus robustus", or "Australopithecus robustus" was a species discovered in the Cradle of Humankind in 1938. Dating to between 2.0 and 1.2 million years ago, the creature had a strong jaw, large teeth, and a very pronounced brow ridge. Located less than a mile from Sterkfontein Cave, Swartkrans Cave was the site of an important fossil discovery made in the 1950s. Three species were found in the cave; one was a variety of "Homo erectus" called "Telanthropus capensis", which dated between 1.9 and 2.1 million years old.

The classification of Mrs. Ples and Little Foot as "Australopithecus africanus" has already been discussed. Neanderthals evolved in Europe.
8. The ability to control the use of fire was invaluable to early hominins. Can you name the species that lived in the Cradle of Mankind that was able to control fire?

Answer: Homo erectus

Actually two species have been discovered in the Cradle of Mankind, "Homo erectus" and the earlier "Paranthropus robustus", that probably could control fire. The two probably coexisted together for a short while, with "Paranthropus robustus" living from 1.8 million to 1.2 million years ago, and "Homo erectus" coming on the scene at about the same time.

The oldest use of controlled fire that has been found at Swartkrans Cave, and has been dated to about 1.5 million years ago, so either species could have been responsible. Scientists are also still trying to figure out which group made the stone and bone tools that have also been found at the site, as either would have been capable of doing that as well!
9. At the present time, what is believed by some scientists to be the significance of the discovery in the Cradle of Humankind which is classified as "Australopithecus sediba".

Answer: It appears to be a transitional species.

Paleontologists are always looking for the missing link! Found at the Malapa Fossil Site in 2008, the fossils of six individuals were dated to 2 million years ago. Because they are so well preserved, it is believed that the individuals fell to their deaths. Similar in many ways to "Australopithecus africanus", the differences are what makes the fossils an amazing discovery. "Australopithecus sediba" had a brain that was about 95% as large as a modern human, larger than an australopithecine, but smaller than the "Homo" genus, with teeth very similar to an "Homo erectus" with the exception of the cusp, which is more australopithecine.

As is the case in all hominin discoveries, many experts in the field have different opinions.
10. The most famous discovery made in the Cradle of Humankind was Lucy.

Answer: False

Lucy was discovered in 1974 by Donald Johanson at a site near the village of Hadar in the Afar Triangle region of Ethiopia. Classified as an "Australopithecus afarensis", Lucy lived about 3.2 million years ago, and was the most complete skeleton of a hominin at 40% that had been discovered at the time. Considered to be younger than an "Australopithecus africanus", Lucy had ape-like characteristics, such as a small brain, however, the structure of her pelvis and leg bones indicated upright walking. For more information about Lucy, you may like to check out my quiz, '"Lucy" in the Sky with Diamonds'.
Source: Author ponycargirl

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
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