Emma Nguvi Mbua
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNational Museums of Kenya
Grant numberGr. 10475
Approve DateApril 6, 2023
Project TitleMbua, Emma (National Museums of Kenya) "Further fieldwork and taphonomic studies at Kantis Fossil Site, a Pliocene locality in Kenya."
Kantis Fossil Site (KFS) represents one of the earliest Australopith localities at nearly 3.6 mya. Unlike most Australopithecus sites within east Africa, KFS is located outside the Gregory Rift Valley on the highlands of Ngong escarpment and on a dense, localized bonebed. Kantis Fossil Site, with its rich assemblage of associated faunal remains, offers an opportunity to answer questions about the environmental context of Australopithecus at KFS, potential foraging behaviors, and selection pressures Australopithecus may have faced during the early Pliocene. Taphonomy and Paleoenvironmental research allow us to examine the diversity of ecological conditions that may have shaped these early members of our lineage. We estimate that roughly two-thirds of fossil-bearing sediments were excavated, measuring 170 square meters, since the work began in 2009. Further work on the unworked sediments is crucial to increase the likelihood of finding additional A: afarensis and associated faunal fossils. Our research goals are thus in three folds; firstly, we propose to extend excavations on the remaining bonebed on exposed sediments. Secondly, we will collect taphonomic data and test taphonomic hypotheses on site formation. Lastly, we will identify collected fossil faunal remains, conduct community analyses, and compare results with other published paleoenvironmental studies.