Who could be the first stone tools-makers?

What were their subsistence behavior and land use?

Who could be the first stone-tools makers (Lomekwian and Oldowan)?

Even if the association between hominin and culture is a recurring question in palaeoanthropology, the new discoveries in the Nachukui Formation made by our team (WTAP) renewed interest in this issue for the Pliocene and Pleistocene techno-complexes and the question of Pliocene and early Pleistocene hominin diversity.
The question of the identity of the tool-makers could be also approached through the cognitive requirements and manual capabilities.

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Dental remains (e.g. tooth enamel) are a key tissue for taxonomic identification, phylogenetic and biological inferences. We will investigate internal morphology of the dentition of the WTAP findings [S. Prat and ANR HOMTECH contract; root morphology, enamel thickness, and dental trait expression at the enamel-dentine junction (EDJ)]. We will also undertake trait coding, morphometric geometry, macrowear and microwear analyses (Master 2, Juliette Henrion). Comparisons will be also done with the isotopic studies (Carbon, Oxygene) undertaken on the WTAP material by Cerling (2013). Taxonomical determination and comparison of the dental remains (S. Prat) will be undertaken using a comparative sample from Plio-Pleistocene African hominins Furthermore, in order to better understand the taxonomical variability of Pliocene and Pleistocene hominins, morphological and metrical comparisons will be undertaken, using 2D and 3D morphometric methods (e.g. Procrustes and Fourier analyses; F. Détroit, S. Prat). This project will also integrate the comparative anatomy of some primates (chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and modern humans) as an interpretative model for the hominins.

What were their subsistence behaviours and landscape use?

We will investigate hominin landscape use and territorial mobility, which are crucial elements of primate ecology and key factors in their adaptation to the environment and its fluctuations, through biogeochemical analyses. These values will be compared to ones obtained on fauna samples and to a baseline geographic map of the biologically available 87Sr/86Sr variation in West Turkana (reflecting the different Plio-Pleistocene geological substrates from the Nachukui Formation). All the isotopic analyses will be run by C. Verna.

Main collaborators

  • Sandrine prat (CNRS, UMR 7194, HNHP)
    Paleoanthropology, external and internal anatomy, morphometrics
    Coordinator task 2
    Contact : sandrine.prat@mnhn.fr
  • Florent Détroit (MCM, UMR 7194, HNHP)
  • Christine Verna (CNRS, UMR 7194, HNHP)
    Isotope analyses
  • Amélie Chimènes (CNRS, UMR 7206, EA)
    2D/3D reconstructions
  • Juliette Henrion (Master 2 MNHN, ANR contract)
    Micro-wear analyses and 3D dental reconstructions