After two days on the road, everyone was still game to get to know one another before hiking down to the lake.
For paleontologists and archaeologists it can take a lot of imagination to conjure up the ancient environments that surrounded the animals and artifacts being excavated. Without a clear idea of the environmental context that surrounded the material exhumed from the ground, it’s tough to examine the clues to paleoecological interactions preserved beneath our feet.
The Turkana Basin today is a relatively arid scrubland but data discovered in the isotopic, floral, and paleontological record indicate the landscape was once lush, with crocodiles and hippos in the rivers and lakes, and giraffes and rhinos browsing the foliage.
So, the Spring 2013 Turkana Basin Field School began course work with ecologist Dr. Dino Martins, not in the badlands of northern Kenya, but in the verdant Central Rift Valley along the shores of Lake Elementiata and Lake Nakuru.
Still slightly jet-lagged and tired from a trip over the Atlantic, Europe, the Mediterranean, and Saharan Africa, the students pushed on to Pelican Lodge on the shores of Lake Elementiata where flamingoes skimmed for food on the water’s edge along with spoon billed storks, pelicans, dippers, and sacred ibises.
Dr. Martins lead the walk along the water’s edge, pointing out the birds soaring overhead or splashing into the inland, salty lake, noting the specific adaptations each animal possessed for chasing down its preferred next meal.