THE PALAEONTOLOGICAL SCIENTIFIC TRUST (PAST)
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.