Current State of Paleoanthropology in Ethiopia

If you haven’t checked out John Hawks‘ overview of the synopsis Elizabeth Pennisi wrote on the current state of paleoanthropological research and infrastructure in Ethiopia, I do advise you to check it out. Actually, if you have access to Science, why don’t you just hop onto the original news focus, “Rocking the Cradle of Humanity” now?

The full text is chock full of informative quotes from some paleoanthropologists doing work in Ethiopia. Since they talk about the present and future of paleoanthropogy, tourism, and development of Ethiopia, I suggest you to look out for quotes from Tim White, Berhane Asfaw, Yohannes Haile-Selassie, and Sileshi Semaw — people who have focused on working in Ethiopia for a while now. I hate to come off smug, but I was planning on posting about this last night but ended up calling it a night early to actually do some work in the presence of some of the aforementioned paleoanthropologists today….so this time I actually have an excusable reason as to why Hawks beat me to the punch!

Pennisi’s piece covers the recent meeting in Addis Ababa of academics conducting research in Ethiopia and government individuals. I have some posters from that meeting hanging up in my room. Ethiopia is developing rapidly, you can see it all around Addis Ababa. Scientifically, Ethiopia is also developing rapidly… with a brand new National Museum around the corner, Ethiopia is building what I am sure is a welcomed facility to house one of the most comprehensive fossil records of human evolution. Furthermore, the facility will have so much space that rival researchers can have their own offices space so they won’t have to be rubbing elbows with one another.

Anyways, this is all possible because of the ties built between the Ethiopian government and academics. I really admire the scientists who have devoted much of their life’s work to not only recover fossils in a systematic and thorough manner, but to also invest time, energy and passion in developing Ethiopia. Conducting any sort of scientific research, especially fieldwork, is not done in a vacuum. Permits need to be signed off of on, and cooperation needs to exist between scientists and the government… and I commend Ethiopia for their progress.

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