Institute for Human Evolution (IHE)


The IHE aims to be at the cutting edge of palaeoanthropological research; the IHE function aims to promote South Africa's heritage to a wider audience; to stimulate a new generation of scientists with an interest in human evolution; and to contribute to the development of young researchers especially from previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa, through outreach programmes at university, school and community level.

The IHE focuses partly on South African Plio-Pleistocene hominin fossils and non-hominin fauna (from Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Gladysvale, Gondolin, Makapansgat, Taung and a newly discovered site), and partly on late Pleistocene archaeological sites (including Blombos, Sibudu and Rose Cottage Cave) associated with artefacts reflecting technological innovation in the Middle Stone Age. 

The IHE was established in January 2004 under the interim Directorship of Professor Trefor Jenkins. The current Director, Professor Francis Thackeray, was appointed in February 2009. 

The IHE is an interdisciplinary and interfaculty initiative of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Breaking News

Sediba in Science 2013

New Sediba fossils found in rock

South African scientists will share the country’s latest fossil discovery with the world using live virtual technology.

Scientists from the Wits Institute for Human Evolution based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg today announced the discovery of a large rock containing significant parts of a skeleton of an early human ancestor. The skeleton is believed to be the remains of ‘Karabo’, the type skeleton of Australopithecus sediba, discovered at the Malapa Site in the Cradle of Humankind in 2009. 

Sediba fossil casts debut in London

Exact fossil replicas of two of the most complete skeletons of early human relatives ever found are being presented to the Natural History Museum in London. These replicas, from the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, will be exhibited for the benefit of the public at the Museum. It is one of a several sets of casts that will, in the next few weeks, be handed over to public institutions and universities (including Cambridge and Oxford) in the United Kingdom and Europe for teaching and educational purposes for the benefit of the British and European public.

100,000-year-old ochre toolkit and workshop discovered at Still Bay, South Africa

An ochre-rich mixture, possibly used for decoration, painting and skin protection 100,000 years ago, and stored in two abalone shells, was discovered at Blombos Cave, 300km east of  Cape Town, South Africa.

New evidence suggests that Au.sediba is the best candidate for the genus Homo

The five papers (by Dr Lee Berger et al) will reveal new, important elements attributed to Au. Sediba, the two type skeletons - an analysis of the most complete hand ever described in an early hominin, the most complete undistorted pelvis ever discovered, the most accurate scan of an early human ancestors brain, new pieces of the foot and ankle, and one of the most accurate dates ever achieved for an early hominin site in Africa.