One of the main aims of In Africa is to increase the number of human and animal fossils, as well as archaeological information, that exists for the period in which modern humans and their diversity evolved in East Africa. In Africa targets two areas of the of Kenya known to have a rich record of human evolution – the Turkana Basin and the Central Rift Valley, which are the focus of the project’s fieldwork.

After an initial brief reconnaissance of the area of Natome in 2008, fieldwork in West Turkana began in 2009, under the project ‘Late Quaternary Human Evolution in West Turkana’ (LQWT), a study that continues under In Africa (INA/WT). This work has so far focused on the lake’s southwestern floodplain, an extensive area covered in eroding lake sediments. The LQWT project identified and mapped part of the Pleistocene/Holocene palaeolake shore along which hunter-fisher populations lived, as well as earlier Pleistocene sites. The project will also survey the lake’s northwestern floodplain, towards the Kibish formation.

Fieldwork in the Central Rift Valley will begin in 2013, under the project ‘Human Evolution in the Central Rift Valley’ (INA/CR). Exposures in and around the Gamble’s Cave were briefly explored for potential study in 2008, and found to contain rich sediments. Initial surveys will focus on that area, targeting both known and new sites.

The discoveries made through the project ‘Late Quaternary Human Evolution in West Turkana’ since 2009 are numerous, particularly of fossils of late Pleistocene/early Holocene age. The discovery of earlier Pleistocene fossiliferous deposits promises to extend the range of remains into the past. The material from West Turkana represents a significant increase in the number of post-LGM (Last Glacial Maximum) fossils of Homo sapiens in East Africa, and are likely to have a major impact on our understanding of modern human diversity in Africa in the late Quaternary. The establishment of pre-Holocene sites in the Nakuru-Naivasha Basin will hopefully fill the spatial lacuna between the new discoveries in Rusinga in Lake Victoria to the South by Christrian Tryon and his team, and the Baringo and Turkana Basins to the North, thus allowing the first integrated analysis of modern human prehistoric occupation along the Kenyan Rift Valley.


We would like to thank the many people in Kenya who have provided us assistance, support and encouragement. In particular, the Director of the National Museums of Kenya, Dr Idle Omar Farah, and the museum scientists, especially Dr Emma Mbua, Dr Frederick Kyalo Manthi, and Dr Purity Kiura. In the field we also have benefitted from the tireless work of Mr Justus Edung, who is attached to the NMK in Lodwar. District Commissioners and other district and local officers have also been unfailingly helpful to us.

Within Turkana, the community leaders and community members in the area of Natome where we camp have always been hospitable and welcoming, and the council of the Turkana Water Board for the area have given us daily access to the water pump at Louwae.  Our Turkana field and camp assistants have not only been excellent, but have kept us laughing throughout; indeed, some of them are responsible for some of our biggest discoveries, such as Pedro Ebeya who discovered the burial grounds at Nataruk, or David Lomuria who found many of the human fossils. We would also thank the Director of TBI, Dr Lawrence Martin, and the institute’s staff – both at the Nairobi office for logistic support (Pauline Gathungu, Edwin Njugun and Farida Bana), and at TBI Turkwell for their help, delicious food and use of facilities, in particular Kyalo Onesga for logistic and organizational support, Timothy Ngundo for his help with the sorting and recording of finds (and supervision of other TBI technical staff), Christopher Kiarie for the preparation of fossils (and training and supervision of TBI’s preparators), Lokuami Longacha, Isaia, Elija and others for their excellent food and help, and Ikal Angeli, Dr Dino Martins and Acacia Leakey for the company, many interesting conversations and continuous assistance. Special thanks go to Drs Richard, Meave and Louise Leakey.