The Claude Leon Foundation


PAST, the Palaeontological Scientific Trust, is a Johannesburg-based public benefit organisation that champions Africa's ancient natural and cultural heritage. PAST is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of this heritage for the benefit of Africans and humankind in its entirety.

In 1994 the world-famous Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa (now known as the Cradle of Humankind) was on the verge of being shut down due to lack of funding and resources. Local land-owners and fossil lovers rallied together to establish the Palaeontological Scientific Trust – a non-profit trust that would be dedicated to preserving Africa’s rich fossil heritage, and promoting ongoing scientific research in the region.

The funding and public support that PAST subsequently received ensured not only that the Sterkfontein complex remained operational but ultimately translated into spectacular finds like Little Foot (a near complete Australopithecus africanus skeleton) and the recent discovery of Karabo (Australopithecus sediba). PAST has also been broadly involved in supporting research on the full range of South Africa’s unparalleled fossil record of prehistoric life, from the Iron Age back to the mammal-like reptiles and dinosaurs of the Karoo.

The Foundation continues to provide financial support for PAST’s educational programmes.


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