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Soutpan is a town in the Lejweleputswa District in the Free State province of South Africa. Afrikaans for ‘salt pan or depression’, the name is derived from a large geographical feature of that type, on the slopes of which the Florisbad archaeological site is situated. This natural spring is an important site for palaeontology and zoology, as it is the spot at which many fossils, such as the, now extinct, Pelorovis (giant buffalo) and the world renowned Florisbad skull, were discovered. The latter refers to a hominid skull that has been estimated to be some 260 000 years old, it is an important link in understanding the development of the human family tree.

On 18 May 2019 the National Museum opened up some of its collections to the public for a behind the scenes visit. This was done to celebrate International Museum Day; a day organised by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) to raise awareness on the importance of museums and the roles they play in the development of society and culture. This day has been celebrated since 1977. The theme set for 2019 was “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The future of tradition.”

Date: 9 April 2019, Bloemfontein

The National Museum, Bloemfontein today unveiled the complete skull and skeleton of Tapinocaninus, which was a 3-metre long dinocephalian, an ancient ancestor of mammals.

The specimen is the most complete dinocephalian yet discovered and has been beautifully prepared by the University of the Witwatersrand. The fossil was loaned to the University as several blocks of rocks 29 years ago. It has now been returned to the National Museum as a fully prepared specimen, which will soon be placed on exhibit. A month ago, Bruce Rubidge, Romalo Govender and Marco Romano published the full skeletal description of Tapinocaninus in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.