By Jon Kalb
As co-founder of the excursion that found Lucy, and chief of many of the first site-surveys within the Afar melancholy in Ethiopia, Jon Kalb has years of expertise with the sector, its politics, and the scientists keen on the excavations. A player himself within the "bone wars" that observed those discoveries, Kalb recounts the cutthroat pageant and again stabbing that have been usually a part of the media-highlighted race to discover the oldest hominid fossil. He weaves this tale within the wealthy textile of Ethiopian society and politics, the plight of the areas peoples, and the foreign maneuverings for regulate of the fossil unearths.
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Extra info for Adventures in the Bone Trade: The Race to Discover Human Ancestors in Ethiopia's Afar Depression
Certainly, during my first venture into the Afar that November, I sensed nothing of the “hell-hole of creation” that I had read about. The Afar nomads that we encountered were friendly, and the daytime “winter” temperatures reached only about 35°C (95°F), while the evenings were cool and breezy. The landscape was a subdesert steppe of acacia scrub brush and rolling grassy savanna with intervening broken terrain of gravel-capped plateaus, dry streambeds, and craggy basalt flows. Volcanoes of every size lay to the north.
We were zooming along on a flat, open plain, leaving a billowing cloud of dust behind us, when we spotted a dozen or so ostriches. Suddenly Maurice swerved the vehicle and began chasing one. Amusing. I guess this is what people do in Africa, I thought. Ostriches are fast, with a top speed of about 50 kilometers per hour. But Maurice showed no signs of letting up on the gas pedal. My amusement quickly faded. ” I yelled. ” Maurice laughed and gunned the Land Rover even faster. The ostrich was tiring and we got closer and closer.
The lake lay to the east, on the other side of a high volcanic plateau. Maurice wanted to study the geology of the lake basin— the final drainage point of the Awash River. This was to be the last part of his doctoral dissertation. 1 The springs are abundant throughout the Depression and are created when ground waters are heated by underlying magma sources. Ali indicated that he was willing to help us but was too ill. He pointed to his groin area, wrapped in a grimy white cloth. With his permission, I gingerly unwrapped the crude dressing, clearly a painful exercise for Ali.
Adventures in the Bone Trade: The Race to Discover Human Ancestors in Ethiopia's Afar Depression by Jon Kalb