Cradle of Life

The Story of the Magaliesberg and the Cradle of Humankind

Vincent Carruthers

The complete story of evolution from the beginning of time to the present, as revealed in the Cradle of Humankind and the Magaliesberg Biosphere: a chronology of episodes experienced in the region over geological and historic time. All the main phenomena in the Cradle region are presented, in chronological order, with detailed explanations, how the
Date Published :
January 2020
Publisher :
Penguin Random House South Africa
Language:
English
Illustration :
350
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Paperback
ISBN : 9781775845973
Pages : 160
Dimensions : 9.05 X 9.92 inches
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+
In stock
$22.50

Overview
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This book tells the complete story of evolution from the beginning of time to the present, as revealed in the Cradle of Humankind and the Magaliesberg Biosphere: a chronology of episodes experienced in the region over geological and historic time. All the main phenomena in the Cradle region are presented and described by name and time period, giving detailed explanations: how they were discovered, when and by whom, their significance in the bigger picture, where examples can be found and seen in or around the Cradle, and further reading on the phenomena. The book is supported throughout with maps, timeline charts and multiple photographs and illustrations. In addition, there are six ‘interludes’ – important topics that don’t fit the chronology but are useful to our greater understanding of events, as well as text boxes giving short factual accounts relevant to the story. Beautifully presented and richly illustrated, this is the definitive guide to the Cradle of Life as we know it today.

About The Author
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Vincent Carruthers is a well-known environmentalist, who has written and contributed to a range of highly regarded publications, including Wildlife of Southern Africa, Frogs & Frogging in Southern Africa and Frogs of Southern Africa: a Complete Guide, published by Struik Nature. He serves on the board of a number of environmental organisations and runs a management consultancy. In 1989 he was awarded the prestigious Stevenson-Hamilton Medal by the Zoological Society of Southern Africa for his contribution as an amateur zoologist.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Contents
Author’s note and acknowledgements 5
Introduction 8
CHAPTER 1: The Cradle-Magaliesberg 9
The Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve 10
Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site 12
Maropeng 14
PART I Life and Landscape 15
INTERLUDE 1: Measuring deep time 17
CHAPTER 2: The birth of the planet 19
13,800 million years ago – Setting the atomic clock 20
4,600 million years ago – Planet Earth 22
4,540 million years ago – The moon and climate change 23
4,500 million years ago – The magnetic field 24
4,400 million years ago – The atmosphere 25
3,900 million years ago – The hydrosphere 26
INTERLUDE 2: Geology 27
CHAPTER 3: The first landmass 28
3,100 million years ago – Plate tectonics and the first continent 28
Text box: Discovering and monitoring continental drift 30
2,714 million years ago – The Black Reef 31
2,700 million years ago – Early life and cyanobacteria 32
2,250 million years ago – Dolomite and chert 34
2,060 million years ago – The Magaliesberg and the Bushveld Complex 36
CHAPTER 4: Evolution and extinction 38
2,250 million years ago – Oxygen 39
2,000 million years ago – Eukaryotic cells 40
2,023 million years ago – Vredefort Dome 41
Text box: 220,000 years ago – The Tswaing meteorite 42
1,200 million years ago – Pilanesberg volcano 43
500 million years ago – Cradle-Magaliesberg at the South Pole 44
180 to 280 million years ago – Cradle-Magaliesberg in Gondwana 45
INTERLUDE 3: Vegetation and habitats 46
CHAPTER 5: Africa 48
180 million years ago – The break-up of Gondwana 49
120 million years ago – Rivers in the Cradle-Magaliesberg 50
65 million years ago – Mammal and primate evolution 52
Text box: Mammal orders in the Cradle-Magaliesberg 53
20 to 50 million years ago – Climate change and the spread of grassland 54
20 million years ago – Caves and the karst landscape 56
PART II: Human evolution 58
INTERLUDE 4: Evolutionary science 60
Text box: Technology in the palaeosciences 66
CHAPTER 6: The human evolutionary line 67
Text box: Fossil taxonomy 68
7 million years ago – An upright posture – Sahelanthropus tchadensis 70
6 million years ago – Possible facultative bipedalism –Orrorin tugenensis 71
5 million years ago – Adaptations to a complex environment – Ardipithecus 72
4 million years ago – Obligate bipedalism – Australopithecus anamensis 73
3.5 million years ago – East African fossils contemporary with the Cradle 74
INTERLUDE 5: Fossil Sites in the Cradle 75
Text box: Fossilisation 78
CHAPTER 7: The Cradle hominins 79
3.7 million years ago – Earliest hominin in the Cradle – Australopithecus prometheus (Little Foot) 80
2.0 to 2.8 million years ago – The flagship species –Australopithecus africanus 83
1.2 to 2 million years ago – Divergence – Paranthropus robustus 86
1.9 million years ago – Closer to human – Australopithecus sediba 88
Text box: The viewing platform at Malapa 90
CHAPTER 8: The human genus 91
1.8 to 2.3 million years ago – The Earlier Stone Age – Homo habilis 92
1 to 1.9 million years ago – Fire and emigration – Homo ergaster 94
236,000 to 335,000 years ago – The enigma – Homo naledi 97
200,000 years ago – Human beings – Homo sapiens 99
PART III: History and Archaeology 100
INTERLUDE 6: History and archaeology in the Cradle-Magaliesberg 103
CHAPTER 9: The first people 106
60,000 to 200,000 years ago – Peopling the world 107
20,000 to 200,000 years ago – Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers 109
1,000 to 20,000 years ago – Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers 111
1,600 years ago – Early mixed farming at Broederstroom 114
200 to 500 years ago – The Tswana cattle economy 117
CHAPTER 10: The nineteenth century 122
1827 to 1838 – The kingdom of Mzilikazi 123
1835 to 1890 – Naturalists and explorers 126
1836 to 1867 – Mogale and the Boer Republics 128
Chapter 11: Boers and British 130
1877 to 1881 – British Annexation and the Transvaal War 131
1854 to 1925 – Gold, lime and guano 133
1899 to 1902 – The South African War 136
Battlefield and forts in the Cradle-Magaliesberg area 136
1914 to 1948 – The revival of Afrikaner nationalism 142
CHAPTER 12: Science and engineering 144
1924 – Hartbeespoort Dam 145
1925 – The mineral bonanza 149
1954 – The Leiden Telescopes 151
1961 – Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory 152
1965 – Nuclear energy (Pelindaba) 155
1963 – 1994 Anti-apartheid activity in the Cradle area 156
Conclusion – The Anthropocene 158
Glossary 162
Sources 170

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