Friday, February 21, 2014
Curator of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History and Director, Smithsonian Human Origins Program
In 2012, research at the Olorgesailie prehistoric site, located in the Rift Valley of southern Kenya, began a new approach to studying the environmental context of human evolution by obtaining the first long sediment core drilled from an early human fossil site. The drilling operation recovered a total of 216 meters of sediment reaching the volcanic floor of the Rift Valley. The core is expected to provide the most detailed climate record available for the past 500,000 years. This talk summarized the first findings from the analysis of the core, and explained how this study and others, which range from paleontology to experimental biology, are providing novel insights into the processes of human evolution.