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The Turkana Basin is home to many paleoanthropological discoveries that fundamentally reshaped ideas about human evolution. Important finds from the Turkana Basin, including Nariokotome (“Turkana boy”) and KNM-WT 17000 (the “Black Skull”) will be highlighted in lectures and lab activities, and their relevance to the larger picture of human evolution will be explored. Lectures and readings for each discovery will cover:

  1. the research questions and strategies that led to the find;
  2. the kinds of analyses that have yielded the most important interpretive conclusions about the find;
  3. how this discovery reshaped views of the human past;
  4. what new directions it catalyzed in human evolution research.

Class activities consist of lectures, laboratory exercises (reconstructions, measurements) using casts of a wide range of primate fossils, and field trips to locations. Students will learn how to classify and identify fossils.