Field site at Hadar, Ethiopia

Unearthing the fossil record of earliest human evolution

Research continues at our longest running field sites

IHO began with a focus on the early phases of human evolution (4 to 2 million years ago).

Our oldest field programs are at Hadar, Ethiopia, along with several other East African field localities. The novel long-term commitment to Hadar continues and has produced an unprecedented understanding of the biology and environment of the early biped Australopithecus afarensis.

The novel long-term commitment to Hadar continues and has produced an unprecedented understanding of the biology and environment of the early biped Australopithecus afarensis.

A recent expansion of this research is the paleolake drilling project to establish high-resolution ancient climate and environment information for early hominin lifeways, and several grants have been awarded/pending for this research.

Research projects

An IHO affiliate holding the Ledi-Gararu jaw
Plio-Pleistocene hominin site in Ethiopia. Recovery of hominin fossils and preliminary identification of the time range of the deposits and evidence, and understanding the depositional environments and fossil distribution of the center of Paleolake, Hadar.
Fieldwork in Hadar, Ethiopia
Addresses the early evolution and ecological variation of Australopithecus (3.0–3.4 myr) and the origin of Homo and stone-tool making (2.3 myr).

Funding Sources

$23,000
National Geographic Society, 2010
Principal Investigators: W. Kimbel
Paleoanthropology of the Hadar Site: Field Work at the 333 (First Family) Hominin and 666 Archaeological Localities

$80,000
National Science Foundation, 2011
Principal Investigators: J. Wynn (lead-U. Florida), W. Kimbel, M. Sponheimer (Colorado), Z. Alemseged (CAS)
A Biogeochemical Study of the Diet of Australopithecus afarensis. A two-year grant to conduct the first-ever study of the diet of the best known Australopithecus species using isotopic analysis of tooth enamel

$30,000
Wenner-Gren Foundation, 2012
Principal Investigators: William Kimbel and Callum Ross (University of Chicago)
Reconstructing Dietary Adaptations in Human Evolution workshop. April 25–27, 2013

Publications

Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia .
S. McPherron, Z. Alemseged, C. Marean, J. Wynn, D. Reed, D. Geraads, R. Bobe, and H.A. Be´arat.Nature 466 (857–860). August 2010.
DOI: 10.1038/nature09248 | View article in Nature

The cranial base of Australopithecus afarensis: New insights from the female skull.
W.H. Kimbel and Y. Rak.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365 (3365–3376). September 2010.
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0070 | View article on Royal Society

Complete fourth metatarsal and arches in the foot of Australopithecus afarensis.
C.V Ward, W.H. Kimbel, and D.C. Johanson.Science 331 (750–753). February 2011.
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201463 | View article on Science

Timing of the appearance of habitual fire use.
Dennis M. Sandgathea, Harold L. Dibble, Paul Goldberg, Shannon P. McPherrond, Alain Turqh, Laura Nivend, and Jamie Hodgkins.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108: 16200–16205. July 2011.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1106759108 | View article at PNAS

CT-based study of internal structure of the anterior pillar in extinct hominins and its implications for the phylogeny of robust Australopithecus.
Brian Villmoare and William Kimbel.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (16200–16205). September 2011.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1105844108 | View article in PNAS