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Swartkrans is a South African National Heritage Site, around 20 miles (32 km) from Johannesburg.[1]

Swartkrans is a farm near[clarification needed] to Sterkfontein, notable for being extremely rich in archaeological material, particularly hominin remains. It was purchased by the University of the Witwatersrand in 1968. The oldest deposits present at the site are believed to be between 1.8 and 2 million years old.[citation needed]

Some of the earliest evidence of controlled use of fire by humans can be found at Swartkrans, up to 1.5 million years ago.[2] [3]

Fossils discovered in the limestone of Swartkrans include Telanthropus capensis (a variety of Homo erectus), Paranthropus and Homo habilis.

Noted paleontologist Robert Broom was a frequent digger. He was followed by C. K. 'Bob' Brain , whose excavations at the site inspired his book The Hunters or the Hunted? in which he demonstrated that instead of being bloodthirsty killer apes, the hominin fossils found at the site were themselves victims of predation by big cats. Originally, it was believed that Dinofelis was responsible for for such killings, though recent evidence suggests that hominids were likely the victims of Megantereon or leopards based on carbon isotope ratios taken from each predator.[4]

Swartkrans is part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.[5]


  1. ^ "9/2/233/0012 - Swartkrans Palaeontological Site, Zwartkrans 172, Krugersdorp District". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ C. K. Brain; A. Sillent (1988-12-01). "Evidence from the Swartkrans cave for the earliest use of fire". Nature 336 (6198): 464–466. doi:10.1038/336464a0. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Rincon, Paul (22 March 2004). "Bones hint at first use of fire". BBC. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  4. ^ http://www.maropeng.co.za/news/entry/dinofelis_hominid_hunter_or_misunderstood_feline
  5. ^ Lesnik, J.; Thackeray, J.F. (2007). "The efficiency of stone and bone tools for opening termite mounds: implications for hominid tool use at Swartkrans". South African Journal of Science 103: 354–356. 

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Coordinates: 25°55′45″S 27°47′20″E / 25.92917°S 27.78889°E / -25.92917; 27.78889