Gladysvale Cave is a fossil-bearing breccia filled cave located about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) northeast of the well-known South African hominid-bearing sites of Sterkfontein and Swartkrans and about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north-northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is situated within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and is itself a South African National Heritage Site.
Many thousands of fossils have been recovered from the Gladysvale deposits including rare remains of hominids. From the Gladysvale external deposits, almost a quarter of a million bones have been recovered since excavations began in 1992. There are many millions of bones still in place in the cave. Fossils recovered include antelope, giant zebra, carnivores including extinct wolves, monkeys and hominids attributed to Australopithecus africanus and early Homo.
Tools have also been found with the most spectacular being an Acheulean handaxe (pictured), recovered from 1 million year old sediments.
Age of the deposits
The Gladysvale sequence has been dated using a combination of biostratigraphy, palaeomagnetism (Andy Herries, La Trobe University, Australia), electron spin resonance and uranium series dating (Robyn Pickering, U. Melbourne, Australia). The youngest deposits are thought to be around 54,000 years old while the oldest deposits that are the likely source of the Au. africanus fossils are around 2.4–2.0 million years old. The Gladysvale External deposits contain extensive faunal remains and date to between 780,000 and 530,000 years ago. An Acheulian handaxe was recovered from internal deposits older than the Bruhnes-Matuyama boundary at 780,000 years.