2008: Human Origins Project

Into Africa
The world's top paleontologists, archaeologists, and geologists are on an ambitious mission to trace the origins of man.

About the Project:
The Human Origins Project, a joint initiative of the National Geographic Society and the Turkana Basin Institute, will utilize cutting-edge technology to become the largest and most informative multilingual resource available on the subject of human evolution.
 
Over the past 35 years, the Koobi Fora region in northern Kenya’s Turkana Basin has yielded a wealth of fossil material that has revealed a great deal of information about human history and origins. Some 16,000 fossils, including 350 hominid specimens, have been collected from the basin. The findings help scientists understand hominid behavior like tool use, piece together basic hominid lineages, and understand hominid diversity.
 
Based on past successes in the TurkanaBasin, researchers are hopeful that the next five to ten years of fieldwork will yield important new finds. Paleontologists are frequently discovering new sites, and greater numbers of students and professionals are now devoted to this project.
 
Additionally, advances in technology are making paleontological and archaeological research more efficient and accurate. Using new methods of analyzing oxygen and carbon isotopes in fossils, scientists are now able to study the diet of extinct herbivores and the environments in which they lived. Satellite technology has also improved collection techniques and advanced computers can analyze and store more complex sets of data.
 
Project Goals
The Human Origins Project is the most ambitious and comprehensive undertaking of its kind, and researchers have high hopes for its outcomes. Goals of the mission include creating a Web resource that contributes to our understanding of human origins; educating and inspiring the next generation of scientists; providing means of research for global and indigenous paleontologists, geologists, scientists, and students; creating a collaborative community and virtual meeting space for anyone interested in human origins; and presenting a prehistory of early humans.
 
Scientists in the field and in the lab are working hard to ensure the vast potential of the Human Origins Project is realized.
 
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)
 
How You Can Help
Donate to the National Geographic Society at:
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