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Florisbad Museum and Research Centre, Soutpan

Florisbad, Central Free State, South Africa - where the Florisbad Man was foundFlorisbad is the location of a fossil-bearing lithium spring mound on a farm 45 km north west of Bloemfontein, in the Goldfields region of the Free State, famous for its mammalian fossils, including the skull of a 260 000 year old hominid.

The fossils were discovered by the owners of the farm who were using the mud from the springs for ‘healing mudpacks’. It was seen that the springs ‘eyes’ would get clogged up, then another eye would open. The debris that was clogging the eyes turned out to be fossils, and the site subsequently attracted the attention of the scientific fraternity. The Florisbad Man skull was discovered in 1933 by Dr T.F. Dreyer, Professor of Zoology at the University of the Orange Free State (former name of the Free State).

The skull remains uniqiue and no further human or hominid fossils have been found at Florisbad to date – though the search continues.

The National Museum in Bloemfontein administers the Florisbad Quaternary Research Department at the site, which is awaiting the formalisation of National Heritage Status for Florisbad. The Research Department consists of offices, laboratories, an educational centre and fossil collections – predominantly those of 400 000 – 500 000 year old mammal species. These are kept in buildings that were once a part of the Florisbad Resort, a popular destination from the 1950’s when two brick baths were built over the springs to catch the clear spring water, believed to have healing properties, but closed in the 1980’s when the site was taken over by the National Museum.

The springs are still active, and you can stay at the centre in one of the Rondawels that used to be part of the resort and use the baths, though its usually researchers who stay there, and the accommodation is basic.

The Florisbad Man is kept in the National Museum in Bloemfontein.

More on the Florisbad Museum and Research Centre

More info on the quaint town of Bloemfontein More info on the Motheo area