Raymond Dart

Advertures with the missing link

February 4 1893 — November 22 1988
Artist: Marco Cianfanelli
Location: Corner Yale and Enoch Sontonga Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Marco Cianfanelli with the contoured concrete memorial he sculpted in honour of Raymond Dart, who discovered the Taung Skull, proving that Africa is the birthplace of humankind.
Picture: Alex Dodd

On December 23 1924, Raymond Dart discovered the Taung skull, which proved humankind began in Africa. Using one of his wife's knitting needles, he scraped through rock for 73 days to reveal the million-year-old face of an early human baby with a full set of milk teeth. Dart later wrote, "I doubt if there was any parent prouder of his offspring than I was of my Taungs [sic] baby on that Christmas of 1942."

From The Archives
Australopithecus Africanus: The man-ape of South Africa
Published in Nature on February 7, 1925, this was the first proper public paper by Raymond Dart announcing his discovery, and the start of the entire Taung story.
Adventures with the missing link
In this extract from his book, 'Adventures with the Missing Link', Raymond Dart describes how experts corroborated his original opinion that Australopithecus was about one million years old.
The child from Taung
Only Raymond Dart could show Africa had brought forth the first human species, writes Phillip Tobias in the fifth anniversary edition of the journal, Science.
Life Stories
The man behind the missing link
Chris Barron tells the story of Raymond Dart’s discovery of the Taung child.
No ordinary anthropoidal brain
Raymond Dart used one of his wife’s knitting needles to prove that humans originated in Africa.
Making the Memorial
Who is Marco Cianfanelli?
Marco Cianfanelli is fascinated by the act of romanticising space.
The Light Bulb Moment: The Artist's concept
The different layers of skull shapes in Cianfaneli's commemoration of Dart, aims to reflect that humans originated in Africa.
"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