CONFERENCE: Transdisciplinary Research on Human Evolution in the Plio-Pleistocene of the Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia by Jean-Renaud Boisserie
The Shungura Formation (Lower Omo Valley, south-western Ethiopia) is one of the most complete sequence deposited in Africa during between 3.6 Ma (million years ago) and 1 Ma, a critical time period in the evolutionary history of mankind. During this time period, our history was marked by a major split between at least two branches, one leading to our genus, Homo, and the other being robust australopiths. This time period is also that of the earliest available evidence for stone tool knapping, and of the first dispersal of human ancestors to Eurasia. These various events have been tentatively correlated with past global climate changes, which are seen as drivers of human evolution by many scientists. Given its rich and continuous paleontological, prehistorical and environmental records, the Shungura Formation is a perfect place to study the interrelations between our evolution and its environmental background. Since 2006, this has been the goal pursued by the Omo Group Research Expedition, an international team including more than 30 scientists from different fields. This investigation of evolutionary events in conjunction with local environmental changes enlightens the importance of local environmental conditions in driving the evolution in the Turkana Basin.
Jean-Renaud Boisserie is paleontologist at the CNRS, working at the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and at the Institute of Paleoprimatology, Human paleontology: Evolution and Paleoenvironments (IPHEP) in Poitiers (France). He is the principal investigator of the Omo Group Research Expedition.
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