Hominid Paleoenvironments

The East African rift region contains some of the world’s best known hominid fossils and span a time frame which is of major interest for paleoanthropologists.

According to several workers the period between 4.5 and 1.0 million years ago was a period of major climatic change.It is not yet sure if these changes in the climate resulted in the diversity of our human ancestors and the origin of the oldest known tools.

New research in a wide variety of fields related to the study of human evolution is trying to shed light on this possible relation between climatic change and increased diversity of African fauna.Main Goals:

  • Detailed stratigraphic descriptions and correlations through geologic mapping.
  • Dating sediments using all possible tools at hand (magnetostratigraphy, radio-isotopic dating and stratigraphic and geochemical correlations).
  • Collect and correlate fossils to the dated paleoenvironment reconstruction.
  • Measure a variety of proxies for getting a grip on the climatic signal in the sampled sediments.
  • Reconstruct the paleoenvironments to provide constraints to paleoanthropologists trying to decipher the role that environmental changes may have had on human evolution.
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Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP)

The aim of this large ICDP project is to provide the paleo-environmental framework in the Horn of Africa of the last 5 million years. We hope to establish potential links between human evolution and climate change (long-term, periodic or events).

  • Andy Cohen on ICDP project (University of Arizona).
  • Over 50 international mumtidisciplinary scientists.
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Drilling performed in 5 sites spanning hominid history in the horn of Africa. NA Northern Awash; CB Chew Bahir; WT West Turkana; BT Baringo Tugen Hills; LM Lake Magadi. Right: Drilling North Awash at slant angle to recover paleomagnetic inclination for magnetostratigraphy.

Ledi-Geraru project (Hadar Basin, Ethiopia)

This project with the aims at collecting new data from various locations reported to span the 4.5-1.0 Ma period. The lacustrine sediments from these areas offer ideal distal settings to study climate evolution.With:

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Guillaume Dupont-Nivet collecting paleomagnetic sample with an air-cooled electric drill (2006). Battery powered drills now replaced the red generator in the background.
ampling and measuring Ledi-Geraru section: Chris Campisano, Ramon Arrowsmith, Erin DiMaggio and Bruno; Institute of Human Origin at the Arizona State University.
Sampling and measuring Ledi-Geraru sections (2006). Left: Chris Campisano measuring section at cm accuracy, Ramon Arrowsmith, Erin DiMaggio and Bruno collecting precious samples.

Turkana Basin Project

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Main collaborators

  • Craig Feibel
  • Jose Joordens (Naturalis)
  • Mark Sier
  • Jeroen van der Lubbe
  • Cor Langereis
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Turkana Basin in the 2010 with Hubert Von Hoof, Henning Scholz, Craig Feibel, me, Jeroen van der Lubbe, below Jose Joordens, drivers and colleagues and the red generator).
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An astronomically-tuned climate framework for hominins in the Turkana Basin. Joordens et al., 2011.
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