Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cory and Bean in Tanzania

Jambo from Tanzania,

I was able to spend the last month exploring the beautiful country of Tanzania, all while taking part in archaeological excavations at Olduvai Gorge. Olduvai gorge is an important site for those interested in human evolution because it is home to some of the earliest fossils that belong to the genus Homo, meaning it is one of the few places in the world where we can study the remnants of our earliest ancestors and the cultural material they left behind. 

My dragon Bean with a collection of bones at the campsite.

A view of the Olduvai gorge from the museum on site.

Bean hanging out on the top of our tent.

Bean at the BKE preparing to excavate.

The entire trip wasn’t just digging up fossils and stone tools, however. We were able to hike the quartzite outcrops near our camp, such as Naibor Soit, go on safaris so we could view the stunning diversity of wildlife that lives in the region, and even witness the (re)unveiling of the Laetoli footprints, which provide evidence of hominins walking on two feet 3.7 million years ago. We also had the opportunity to interact with some of the people native people to Tanzania, the Maasai. The Maasai were kind enough to invite members of our group to take part in many of their rituals, such as dances, markets, and even a circumcision ceremony, which occurs when a Maasai boy transitions into a warrior.

Water buffalo in the Ngorongoro Crater

Vervet monkey just moments before breaking into our truck looking for food.

A giraffe peeking at me from behind a bush.

A picture of my Massai friend Samson, taken on a hike to see an abandoned lion's den.

Lemagerut, a volcano positioned to the south of our camp.

Zebras we saw on the way to our site.

If anyone is reading this and considering taking part in a study abroad experience, I can’t urge you more to take the opportunity to see more of the world. This has been my second time leaving the country thanks to the study abroad program at UNCG, and these experiences have not only helped me to learn more about the vast diversity that exists within the world today, but to catch a glimpse of how much we have changed over the course of our evolution. 

Bean and I collecting rock hardness samples for my research project.

Best of luck,

Cory Henderson

The Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project

Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania