Paleolakebed drill rig

Paleoecology and Paleoenvironments

Hominid sites and paleolakes drilling project

Drilled long-cores from five ancient East African lake beds will show how environmental change impacted availability of critical resources to human ancestors over the lat four million years. Field and lab work seek to reconstruct the ecology of fossil animal communities to provide insights on the adaptations of early hominin populations across ancient landscapes.

Image courtesy: Jennifer Clark, Human Origins Program, Smithsonian Institute

Research projects

Drilling for paleoclimactic records
Collects drill cores from paleolake sediments adjacent to fossil and artifact sites to assemble high-resolution paleoclimatic records between 4 and 1 myr ago, linking records of evolutionary and local-to-global environmental change.
Landscape in Hadar, Ethiopia dig site
IHO is pioneering a cyberinfrastructure of field data, computer hardware and software, and GIS visualization technology to modernize field-data collection and scientific hypothesis-testing at fossil- and artifact-bearing sites. Collaboration with ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Funding Sources

ASU Intellectual Fusion Investment Fund: Late Lessons from Early History Transdisciplinary Research Initiative, 2008 to 2012
Principal Investigators: R. Arrowsmith, C. Campisano, W. Kimbel
Geoinformatics-based Data Integration for the Study of Pliocene Fossil-bearing Strata of the Hadar Basin (Afar, Ethiopia).

International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, 2017
Principal Investigators: A. Cohen (lead–The University of Arizona) and 18 co-PIs, including C. Campisano
The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project: Using Scientific Drilling to Understand the Paleoclimate Context of Human Evolution

$305,191 total; $239,745 ASU component
National Science Foundation, 2012
Principal Investigators: C. Campisano (lead), K. Reed, R. Arrowsmith
Collaborative Research—Paleoanthropological Investigations of the Ledi-Geraru Hominin Site (Afar, Ethiopia)

$1,034,236 total, $243,888 ASU component
National Science Foundation, 2012
Principal Investigators: C. Campisano (lead), R. Arrowsmith, J. Wynn, M. Umer, A. Asrat
Collaborative Research—The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project: Acquiring a High-resolution Paleoenvironmental Context of Human Evolution


The feeding biomechanics and dietary ecology of Australopithecus africanus.
D.S. Strait, G.W. Weber, S. Neubauer, J. Chalk, B.G. Richmond, P.W. Lucas, M.A. Spencer, C. Schrein, P.C. Dechow, C.F. Ross, I.R. Grosse, B.W. Wright, P. Constantino, B.A.Wood, B. Lawn, W.L. Hylander, Q. Wang, C. Byron, D. Slice, and A. Smith.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences vol. 106 no. 7 2124–2129. February 2009.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0808730106 | View article in PNAS

Dental development and life history in living African and Asian apes.
J. Kelley and G. T. Schwartz.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (1035–1040). December 2009.
| View article in PNAS

Geological summary of the Busidima Formation (Plio-Pleistocene) at the Hadar Paleoanthropological Site, Afar Depression, Ethiopia.
Chris Campisano.Journal of Human Evolution 62 (338–352). March 2012.
DOI Link | View article on ScienceDirect

Growth, development, and life history throughout the evolution of Homo.
Gary T. Schwartz.Current Anthropology 53 (S6) S395–S408. December 2012.
DOI: 10.1086/667591 | View article on JSTOR

Life-history inference in the early hominins Australopithecus and Paranthropus.
J. Kelley and G.T. Schwartz.International Journal of Primatology 33: 6 (1332–1363). December 2012.
| View on Springer Link