So far in the TBI field school, the students learned about the Ecology of the Turkana Basin, understanding how wildlife has greatly impacted the landscape, how vectors can spread disease, and how different animals interact. They saw zebra, giraffe, gazelle, elephants, baboons, cheetahs and they even got to pet a rhino! They then transitioned to a geological way of thinking, learning about the Sedimentary Geology and Geochronology of the Turkana Basin, becoming experts in identifying different geological formations, analyzing sedimentological properties, mapping entire regions, and most importantly interpreting past environments and what modern processes can tell us about them. Now as we enter the fifth week of the Fall 2016 Origins Field School, it is time to put together everything we have learned thus far and become master paleontologists!
This marks the start of the third module, Vertebrate Paleontology, taught by Dr. Ellen Miller from Wake Forest University. Dr. Miller is a biological anthropologist specializing in paleoanthropology, who has been working in the Turkana Basin for more than a decade! She and her co-PI, Isaiah Nengo, are currently directing field excavations at the Turkana Basin’s early Miocene site of Buluk. With her expertise in primate evolution, fossil mammals and skeletal biology, and from all of her field work experience, Dr. Miller is the perfect instructor to teach the students about the evolutionary past, and what working as a true paleontologist is all about.