PICS: Maropeng Centre unveils historic skeleton for BRICS leaders

By Noni Mokati Time of article published Jul 26, 2018

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Johannesburg - Leaders of the five BRICS countries have secured a spot next to one of the world's iconic leaders Nelson Mandela. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazilian leader Michel Temer joined their counterpart, South African President Cyril Ramphosa in creating handprints which will be placed next to those of Mandela at the Cradle of Human Kind's Maropeng Centre, in Mogale City.

The statesmen, who engaged in deliberations on Thursday at the Sandton Convention Centre where the 10th BRICS Summit is underway, were scheduled to tour the world heritage site but were unable to due to logistical challenges in bussing all the leaders to the venue.

Ramphosa used the platform at the Summit to showcase the heritage site which he said was South Africa's pride which he said symbolises the unity of people in the world.

"It also profiles our continent of Africa as the birthplace of the human species and indeed more than 200 million years ago our continents were all joined in the single continent Laurasia. We have differences in languages, culture and beliefs but we are one species bound together by a single ancient history," Ramphosa said.

Shortly after his remarks, leaders at the Summit watched a live stream video of the unveiling of the nearly complete skeleton known as Little Foot to the public.

Speaking from the World Heritage Centre, Professor Ronald Clarke of the Wits University's Evolutionary Studies Institute who discovered Little Foot alongside other researchers said it had taken him over 20 years to extract the remains from rock .

He said the species  known as Australopithecus Promotheus - a female - dates back to 3.67 million of years ago.  It is also a few bones shy of becoming the first ever complete skeleton discovered by mankind dating back to this era. 

Delegates also witnessed the unveiling of the fossil known as Karabo.

For South Africa , this is yet another achievement which following the discovery of Homo Naledi , a new species of human ancestor that was discovered and unveiled in 2015 as well as Mrs Ples -  a 2.5 million-year-old Australopithecus africanus skull found in the Sterkfontein Caves in the 70s.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor told delegates through the live stream that the Brics countries all have sites that connect "our history."

She added: "Your excellencies and dignitaries, we trust that the evidence you have seen today of our common origins has been an inspiration" further saying the handprints of the leaders would symbolise their commitment to safeguarding the future of humanity.

Political Bureau

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