Francis Mwenda Kirera

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Mercer U.

Grant number

Gr. 10265

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Kirera, Francis (Mercer U.) "Paleoanthropological Investigation of new high elevation fossil and stone tool-rich sites in the West Mt. Kenya region, Kenya"

East Africa is an important region in human evolution studies; however the majority of fossils and cultural material remains that have been employed to reconstruct evolutionary models have been recovered from the EARS system. These skewed data do not adequately inform on the stimuli for biological evolution, the range of ecological contexts exploited by hominins, or the resultant behavioral adaptations. With few exceptions, regions outside of the Rift system have not been a focus of paleoanthropological investigations. Limited work in these non-rift areas has recently yielded important data on hominins and lithic technology, some of which are found in refugial contexts. Highland refugia have been variously discussed in the literature on climatic variability and its effect on hominin biocultural evolution, but have never been tested at paleoanthropological sites. Using nine newly discovered fossiliferous, hominin, and artifact-bearing sites at the West Mt, Kenya region, we propose to test here the propositions: that the CHK sites were refugia during harsh climatic regimes. Results from this work will contribute to the understanding of the role of extra-basinal regions and likely highland refugia to the interpretations of the diversity of hominin adaptations in eastern Africa during the Plio-Pleistocene.