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The volume’s ten chapters focus on four projects near the long-studied Hadar Research Area: Dikika, Gona, Hadar, and Ledi-Geraru, which cover most of Africa’s Lower Awash Valley. The authors’ new research and inter-project collaborative efforts help shed light on the chronology and context of some of our earliest ancestors.
The initial phases of human evolution in Africa between 8 and 2.5 Ma are now known to be far more complex than was thought prior to the 1990s.” The newly revealed complexity derives from recent discovery of four new genera (of a total of seven genera) belonging to the upright-walking subtribe hominina (Ardipithecus, Kenyanthropus, Orrorin, and Sahelanthropus) and eight newly defined species of the hominina (S. tchadensis, O. tugenensis, Ar. kadabba, Ar. ramidus, Australopithecus anamensis, Au. bahrelghazali, Au. garhi, and K. platyops)—all new taxa published since 1994.
While these and other finds have driven human-origins research forward, the discoveries have vitally depended on collaborative research with geologists whose contribution has been not only to date fossil discoveries, but increasingly aimed at establishing a more complete understanding of the geological context of speciation and extinction during these early evolutionary phases.