Early to Middle Pleistocene Transition: Evolution and diversity of African hominins

The Trans-Evol project is directed by Aurelien Mounier. The project carries out archaeological excavations in West Turkana (Kenya) in order to document the morphological and cultural diversity of hominin fossil populations during the Early to Middle Pleistocene transition (i.e. EMPT, 1250-750 ka). This period is characterised by major environmental changes along with morphological (encephalisation) and behavioural (specialisation/expansion of Acheulean, new modes of huntings) innovations within the Homo genus. Unfortunately, to date, the African fossil record only counts with three well-preserved hominin remains from this period (Daka, Buia, Olorgaseilie).

Trans-Evol’s principal aim is to deepen our understanding of this key time period of human evolution through the discovery and the study of new African archaeological sites where hominin activities can be attested.

To achieve this aim, the project relies on a large collaborative team of specialists (i.e. archaeology, archaeozoology, palaeontology, geochronology, and palaeoanthropology) from several international institutions.

The project started during the 2017 In Africa project field season with the identification of four areas of interest in South Turkana. In 2018, geological sampling was done to chronologically characterise one of those sites (Kanyimangin) where excavations started in 2019.