Plio-Pleistocene fossil small mammals of the Afar Region (Ethiopia) and their ecological significance for hominin environments

Our research focuses to examine evolution and adaptations of the Plio-Pleistocene fossil small mammal assemblages to explore hominin environments in the Afar Rift of East Africa.

Funders

Ferhat Kaya_Main Project Image
Some views of fossil material collected by the team during the Middle Awash fieldwork last several years. Fossil specimens are curated, organized and stored at the National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

Project information

Project duration

-

Funded by

Multiple sources

Project funder

Finnish Cultural Foundation
University of California, Berkeley (USA)
National Science Foundation (USA)
The Leakey Foundation

Funding amount

215 000 EUR

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

  • Ferhat Kaya

Project description

Our research, "Plio-Pleistocene fossil small mammals of the Afar Region (Ethiopia) and their ecological significance for hominin environments" focuses to reconstruct evolution, biogeography, biostratigraphy and biochronology of the Plio-Pleistocene fossil small mammal assemblages (a new and unstudied fossil collection) to explore hominin environments in Afar Region (Middle Awash and Woranso-Mille sites), Ethiopia. The Middle Awash and Woranso-Mille research areas in the Ethiopia's Afar Depression at the junction of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and continental African rifts provide one of  the most complete records of deep human prehistory, with a record of fossils from our earliest ancestors to the first members of our species, Homo sapiens.  This makes the Afar Basin an excellent focus region to investigate climate and environmental changes that influenced evolution of our own species.

Owing to their unique geological settings and the intensive nature of the fieldwork efforts thus far carried out, the Middle Awash and Woranso Mille sedimentary successions provided new, in-situ, abundant and diverse small mammal fossil assemblages associated with larger vertebrate taxa including hominins from the multiple stratigraphic levels of the Plio-Pleistocene in Afar Rift, Ethiopia. These unstudied fossil small mammal collections from the Middle Awash (1.6 Ma to 0.100 Ma) and Woranso Mille (5.4 Ma to 3 Ma) localities constitute the main study material of this research. This project will elucidate taxonomy, taphonomy and community structure of these new and chronologically very promising fossil collections of the Middle Awash and Woranso Mille sites to explore the ecological context of associated hominin species around last 6 Ma in East Africa. This research financially supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation,  University of California-Berkeley, and John Templeton Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, and National Science Foundation, U.S.A.