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KNM-WT 15000 was found by Kamoya Kimeu in 1984 at the Nariokotome site near Lake Turkana in Kenya. It the most complete specimen of Homo erectus to date. KNM-WT 15000All that’s missing from this 12 year old boy are the hands, feet, and left humerus. Its completeness and its 1.6 million years old age undoubtedly makes it an important specimen to anthropology and the study of human evolution

So to read from Ann Gibbons of Science that Turkana boy has been shipped to The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois to be exhibited rings all sorts of alarm bells that rang when I read about Lucy’s trip to the west.

What if he gets damaged? Why doesn’t a really well done cast suffice?

I doubt that he will get damaged, it is a possibility, but people are really careful when packaging and handling priceless fossils like this. And about the cast, I must confess that I would personally be awestruck to see one of the most complete specimens of early Homo in person… especially because Turkana boy packs a lot of human like traits at 5′ 3″ tall. But what’s going on here? Why all of a sudden have two important hominid fossils been sent off to the US?

Any ideas?

Brown et al., 1985 F.H. Brown et al., An integrated Plio-Pleistocene chronology of the Turkana basin. In: E. Delson, Editor, Ancestor: the Hard Evidence, Alan R. Liss, New York (1985), pp. 82–90.

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