In search of a Miocene Ape, screening, and excavating a 2.5 million year old elephant

|In search of a Miocene Ape, screening, and excavating a 2.5 million year old elephant

During the Human Evolution module the students also got the chance to go on a number of field trips. The first was to the sites of Kalodirr and Losodok where Dr. Skinner set them the challenge of finding a Miocene Ape.

The students begin their search of the outcrops.

The students begin their search of the outcrops.

Kalodirr is dated to around 17 million years ago and it is where 3 different early fossil apes have previously been found – Turkanapithecus kalakonensis, Afropithecus turkanensis and Simiolus enjiessi. 

Meave and Dr. Skinner inspect some of the fossils Robyn and Kailie found.

Meave and Dr. Skinner inspect some of the fossils Robyn and Kailie found.

No luck this time – the students didn’t find any apes; But they did find lots of other interesting fossil animals such as the Deinotherium – a prehistoric elephant with upside-down tusks.

Janina finds a Dinotherion  tooth.

Janina finds a Dinotherion tooth.

A close up of another tooth the students found.

A close up of another tooth the students found.

The next field trip was to South Turkwell where some early hominin teeth and a radius had been found. The goal here was to return to the sites and go over them again to check whether any more bones had eroded out. For this the students did a hillcrawl near where the teeth were found, and some screening in the area where the radius was found.

The students and Dr. Skinner start a hillcrawl near where the teeth were found.

The students and Dr. Skinner start a hillcrawl near where the teeth were found.

Lauren, Robyn, Kailie, Tiffany, Kate and Angela pose for a group photo.

Lauren, Robyn, Kailie, Tiffany, Kate and Angela pose for a group photo.

At the radius site, Angela, Kate and Erica start sweeping and collecting the surface sediment.

At the radius site, Angela, Kate and Erica start sweeping and collecting the surface sediment.

The sediment is then screened.

The sediment is then screened.

Then the students sort through what is left and pick out the fossil fragments.

Then the students sort through what is left and pick out the fossil fragments.

Here Francis gives Kailie, Janina, Sarah and Carolina a hand.

Here Francis gives Kailie, Janina, Sarah and Carolina a hand.

During the second field trip the students also did a small survey of a nearby area during which they came across many pieces of a large elephant long bone on the surface and another large bit sticking out of the ground. After documenting the discovery the students returned to the site later in the week to excavate the bones. Here are some pictures.

Sarah, Erica, Angela, Kailie, Robyn and Abdi, begin excavating the buried elephant bone.

Sarah, Erica, Angela, Kailie, Robyn and Abdi, begin excavating the buried elephant bone…

While Janina, Lauren, Rob and Carolina check the surface nearby for any fragments.

…While Janina, Lauren, Rob and Carolina check the surface nearby for any fragments.

Kate and Meave start piecing some of the fragments together.

Kate and Meave start piecing some of the fragments together.

Kate gets another fit.

Kate gets another fit.

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Abdi, Robyn, Kailie, Angela, Erica and Sarah pose for a picture as the excavate the bone.

Abdi, Robyn, Kailie, Angela, Erica and Sarah pose for a picture as the excavate the bone.

Progerss.

Progress.

More gluing occurs at the elephant 3D-jigsaw puzzle station

More gluing occurs at the elephant 3D-jigsaw puzzle station with Kate and Sarah.

Meave and Dr. Skinner chech on the students progress.

Meave and Dr. Skinner chech on the students progress.

At the end of the morning the students pose for a photo with the excavated bone at the bottom.

At the end of the morning the students pose for a photo with the excavated bone at the bottom.

The soil was too wet for the bone to be removed, so after applying some consolidant to help the bone keep together, the students re-buried the bone for the next field school to excavate.

The soil was too wet for the bone to be removed, so after applying some consolidant to help the bone keep together,  the students re-buried the bone for the next field school to excavate.

The field school has now come to an end and the students are now on their way back home. However, we could not end the blog for the Spring 2014 Field School without the last update on the Turkana-lympics and the graduation ceremony which shall be coming up very soon, so stay tuned!

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:54+00:00 March 31st, 2014|Field Schools|Comments Off on In search of a Miocene Ape, screening, and excavating a 2.5 million year old elephant

About the Author:

Hi! I am Kat Warren and I am the Teaching Assistant for the Spring 2014 field school. While I am here I am also involved in the African Fossils Project (africanfossils.org) where I am 3D-scanning modern African fauna, fossils and archaeological material. I am a recent graduate in Archaeological Science from the University of Sheffield and my current interests lie in the evolution of cognition, and primate behaviour as a means to understand the cognitive frameworks of our earliest ancestors.