The Sudwala Caves system has been present for a variety of activity and a history which has left its mark on the dolomite rock formations. Dating back the furthest of this rich cultural site would be that of Grotto the cave dweller.
We’re sure you have taken notice of Grotto at the Resort or possibly on Facebook; and even spotted his elusive family once or twice. Grotto has been our mascot for some time now and we thought it would be appropriate to give you more information on him first before diving into his history. So, here are the facts:
Classification: Homo habilis
Resides: In the Sudwala Caves, of course!
Height: He’s short, about 3.5ft short – but don’t say it to his face!
Shoe size: Shoes? None fit.
Grotto the cave dweller, classified as Homo habilis, is also referred to as the “handyman”. The oldest known relative in the Homo ancestral tree, Grotto was believed to make use of stone tools to consume meat. These tools were used for cutting and smashing. Those which were found within the Sudwala Caves are on display today at the entrance to the caves. The tools have been carbon dated and vary in age from 2.5 million years to a few thousand years B.C. This comes as no surprise as the Sudwala Caves are estimated to be around 3 000 million years old – the oldest in the world!
Homo habilis was first discovered in Tanzania by the Leakey family. They discovered segments of a jaw, some teeth, and later metatarsals of feet and hands. The discovery of these complex hand bones led the group to classify the creature as part of the Homo family tree rather than that of the Australopithecus species, which was more ape-like in stature.
Grotto the cave dweller’s statue was small. On average, the species stood between 3 and 4 ft. and weighed a mere 30kg. Homo habilis had a slightly larger skull than its predecessors, as well as smaller front teeth.
The Sudwala Caves are an extensive stretch of caves and crevices, making up part of the Mankelekele Mountain range. They were created by the flow of water which trickled through the soft dolomite rock foundation to create caverns. This process continues to shape the rock today; however, the caves would not have looked much different in the day of Homo habilis who called this marvel his home. The caves remain at a cool 17°C throughout the hot South African summer via an underground source of air that filters through the caves, much like a modern air conditioner.
It is no wonder that Grotto would have made his home here to shade himself from the heat while still having access to a steady water source (kind of like modern indoor plumbing) and a countryside rich with wildlife.
Book your stay at Sudwala Lodge today and visit to the famous Sudwala Caves.