Adventures with the missing link

In this extract from his book, 'Adventures with the Missing Link', RAYMOND DART tells how experts corroborated his original opinion that Australopithecus was about one million years old.

"From the moment Australopithecus was introduced to the world, laymen and scientists have naturally wanted to know about the age of the creature, while the immediate question usually asked by those making their first acquaintance with anthropology is how it is possible for bones to be preserved for a million years or more."

"When the Taung skull was described as that of an advanced ape resembling man in various features, Professor RB Young, my geologist colleague made a detailed study of the locality and the valley alongside and stated that the Buxton limestone deposit at Taung was probably Pleistocene. This too was the conclusion of then late Dr WD Matthew, the American Museum of Natural History's leading paleontologist, who wrote that on the fossil evidence he would regard the deposit as Lower Pleistocene."

"These experts corroborated my own original opinion, backed by Broom, that Australopithecus was about one million years old. This was more than twice the age of Dubois' Java Man, the most significant find in Asia, which after being locked away for more than thirty years was again in the limelight when my discovery was announced."

- Dart, Raymond A. Adventures with the Missing Link, (Hamish Hamilton: London, 1959)

back to the Raymond Dart memorial page

"I stood in the shade holding the brain as greedily as any miser hugs his gold."
Raymond Dart
Raymond Dart
Picture: © SA National Library, Cape Town


In this lesson plan, learners will become familiar with the story of Raymond Dart's defiance of accepted "scientific" wisdom. Very few people believed what Dart had to say. For 25 years he was ridiculed by many other scientists. But in the end he was proved right. It turned out that the other scientists had been taken in by a fraud! It's vital to be aware of how prejudice can cause us to make errors even when we think we are being scientific.

Lesson plan
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Raymond Dart - Adventures with the missing link
Images from the long life and career of Raymond Dart
Audio extract of interview with Raymond Dart
An extract from a Springbok Radio interview with Raymond Dart, broadcast in February 1969
Raymond Dart and the Missing Link
In 1924, Raymond Dart discovered proof that humankind began in Africa. SABC’s famous newsreel, African Mirror, reports on this seminal event in its coverage of the 1963 Man in Africa exhibition, which detailed the history of humans, from prehistoric tim
Audio Slideshow