Palaeo-Tours offers the unique opportunity for you to visit the actual fossiliferous deposits at the site of Drimolen -- the pre-human fossil site first to yield a virtually complete skull of Australopithecus!
This site was only discovered in 1992 and is already the third richest hominid site in southern Africa. On the 26th of April 2000, the most complete female Australopithecus robustus skull (nicknamed Eurydice) along with a complete male jaw (nicknamed Orpheus) made world headlines, see picture below. The site has already unearthed 79 hominid fossils, a wealth of faunal remains and some remarkably well-preserved juvenile hominids. As the site is being excavated year round, visitors to Drimolen are afforded the unique opportunity to be among the first individuals to see fossils dating back to 2 million years coming to light! The rich fossil site of Drimolen provides an excellent opportunity to see an excavation in progress.
Drimolen's Eurydice and Orpheus
The skull is the most complete skull of its kind ever found. It was nicknamed by it discoverer Eurydice after the Greek legend because it was found lying almost cheek to jowl next to a male mandible nicknamed Orpheus. Both specimens date between 2 to 1.5 million years ago. This species, Australopithecus robustus, lived successfully for nearly a million years and lived along side species within our own genus, Homo.
Why Drimolen will rock the World?
Drimolen has now become one of the most important hominid sites in the world. It has already yielded more than 79 hominid fossils that make it the third richest site in South Africa and it appears to have the potential to become the richest site of all.
Dr André Keyser first discovered the site on the 9th July 1992. On this day Dr Keyser was invited to visit a fossil site on the adjacent farm Daniëlsrust where a tooth of the giant extinct zebra, equus capensis had been found a few days before by a young geologist working for the Geological Surveyor, Mr. Murray Obbes. After visiting the Daniëlsrust site which did not look very promising Mr. Obbes offered to show Dr Keyser a large sinkhole on top of a hill on the farm Kromdraai 519JQ, now part of the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve and known as DRIMOLEN. The two scientists drove along the road to a locked gate where they walked through the veld towards the hill on which the sinkhole appeared. Along the way they passed an old abandoned lime works that Mr. Obbes knew but had not investigated. They crawled under dense trees and bushes to look for the cave entrance.
In the largest of the holes, now known as the "Main Quarry", Dr Keyser saw the back half of a monkey skull and part of an elephant skull in the wall of the quarry above the cave entrance. After this discovery the two scientists then proceeded to the top of the hill to investigate the sinkhole.
Dr Keyser realized the importance of the find and returned the following day to investigate the old lime works. It was immediately clear to Dr Keyser that the site had potential and on return the following week with a team of laborers to help carry the rocks that contained fossil bones, the first hominid fossil, an upper molar of an ape-man, was discovered.