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Palaeoanthropological mission in the Omo (Omo Group Research Expedition)

Members
Jean-Renaud Boisserie (CNRS, CFEE & IPHEP),
Doris Barboni (CNRS, CEREGE),
Yonas Beyene (ARCC-Hawassa & CFEE),
Cécile Blondel (Université de Poitiers, IPHEP),
Faysal Bibi (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin),
Michel Brenet (INRAP, PACEA),
Michel Brunet (Collège de France),
Tiphaine Coillot (Université de Nantes),
Guillaume Daver (Université de Poitiers, IPHEP),
Anne Delagnes (CNRS, PACEA),
Emmanuel Fara (Université de Bourgogne, Biogéosciences),
Géraldine Garcia (Université de Poitiers, IPHEP),
Franck Guy (CNRS, IPHEP),
Leslea Hlusko (University of California, Berkeley),
Joséphine Lesur (MNHN, AASPE),
Andossa Likius (Université de N’Djaména, Département de Paléontologie),
Hassane T. Mackaye (Université de N’Djaména, Département de Paléontologie),
Tiphaine Maurin (Université de Bordeaux, PACEA),
Gildas Merceron (CNRS, IPHEP),
Olga Otero (Université de Poitiers, IPHEP),
Mathieu Schuster (CNRS, IPGS),
Antoine Souron (Université de Bordeaux, PACEA),
Jérôme Surault (Université de Poitiers, IPHEP),
Kevin Uno (Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory),
Patrick Vignaud (Université de Poitiers, IPHEP),
Meklit Yadeta (Addis Ababa University, School of Earth Sciences).

Created in 2006 by Jean-Renaud Boisserie (CNRS, CFEE & IPHEP), this multidisciplinary research program (including Evolutionary Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Paleoanthropology) is today the only one to continue the pioneering work initiated more than 80 years ago by French paleontologists in Ethiopia. The program OGRE/MPO works on the impact of environmental changes on the morphological and behavioral evolution of humans in the Lower Omo Valley (southwestern Ethiopia, Turkana Lake Basin), during a time period dated between 3.6 million years ago (Ma) and 1 Ma. Every year, this team discovers new hominid remains (notably documenting the ill-known transition between australopiths, such as Lucy, and the genus Homo). The OGRE also collects abundant data on the evolution of other animals, environments, and stone tools made by our ancestors. It involves PhD students (two paleontology PhDs obtained in France in 2012 and 2014). Every year, about twenty Ethiopian and foreign experts participate to several weeks of fieldwork in a very remote area experiencing difficult climatic conditions. This is the largest French research team in Ethiopia, and it is supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In addition, Jean-Renaud Boisserie is deeply involved in the partnership with the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) in terms of activities linked to heritage conservation and scientific knowledge dissemination in Ethiopia. His work notably encompasses the supervision and writing of the scientific material displayed in the two consecutive Paleontology and Prehistory galleries opened at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in 2000 and 2014. Jean-Renaud Boisserie also contributes to the training of the ARCCH personnel as well as to the one of Addis Ababa University students (two master students were advised in 2015). Finally, he is part of a broad project involving the European Union, the UNESCO, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Cuture and Tourism for elaborating a management plan to protect and promote the paleoanthropological sites of the Lower Omo Valley.

News
Follow the news of this research program on the blog of the CFEE.

Bibliography

1. Papers in peer-reviewed journals and books
Bibi F., 2011. Tragelaphus nakuae : Evolutionary change, biochronology, and turnover in the African Plio-Pleistocene. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 162, 699-711.

Bibi F., Souron A., Bocherons H., Uno K., Boisserie J.-R., 2013. Ecological change in the Lower Omo Valley around 2.8 Ma. Biology Letters 9 (1), 1-4.
Boisserie J.-R., 2013. Continental dwarfism of an early Pleistocene hippopotamid from the Shungura formation, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31 (supplement 1), 89.

Bibi, F., Boisserie J.-R. et White, T.D., 2011. Paleoenvironmental change in eastern Africa through the fossil record of Bovidae. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31 (3s), 71.

Boisserie J.-R., 2013. Travaux passés et actuels dans la basse vallée de l’Omo (Sud-Ouest de l’Éthiopie). In : M. Sahnouni (ed.) : L’Afrique, berceau de l’humanité : découvertes récentes ; pp. 87-103. Centre National de Recherches Préhistoriques, Anthropologiques et Historiques, Alger.
— Quelle place pour l’Afrique dans l’histoire évolutive et biogéographique du genre Homo ? Afriques 2, voir en ligne hafriques.revues.org/626
- 2010. Omo paleoanthropological area. In : S. Ulhig (ed.) : Encyclopaedia Aethiopica – Vol. 4 : O-X ; pp. 20-21. HarrassowitzVerlag, Wiesbaden.
—  2009. Ré-initier l’exploration paléontologique et archéologique de la formation de Shungura (vallée de l’Omo, Éthiopie). Annales de la Fondation Fyssen 23, 59-72.

Boisserie J.-R. et al., 2011. Evolving between land and water : key questions on the emergence and history of the Hippopotamidae (Hippopotamoidea, Cetancodonta, Cetartiodactyla). Biological Reviews 86, 601-625.
—  2010. Reconstructing the African background to human expansions in Eurasia : new research in the Shungura Formation, Ethiopia. Quaternary International 223-224, 426-428.
— 2008. New palaeoanthropological research in the Plio-Pleistocene Omo Group, Lower Omo Valley, SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities and People Regions), Ethiopia. Comptes Rendus Palevol 7, 429-439.

Coillot T., Bernor R. L. et Boisserie J.-R., 2013. Contribution of the Shungura formation (3.6 Ma - 1.05 Ma) to eastern African equid evolution and paleodiet study. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31 (supplement 1), 108.

Delagnes A., 2012. The Earliest Stone Age of Ethiopia in the East African context. In :N. Sanz & P. Keenan (eds.) : African Human Origin Sites and the World Heritage Convention ; pp. 94-107. UNESCO World Heritage Centre (World Heritage Papers Series), Paris.

Delagnes, A., Boisserie, J.-R. et al., 2011. Archaeological investigations in the Lower Omo Valley (Shungura Formation, Ethiopia) : new data and perspectives. Journal of Human Evolution 61, 215-222.

Maurin T., Delagnes A., Boisserie J.-R., 2014.Spatial behaviours of the early Oldowan toolmakers in the Shungura Formation (Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia). Proposition for an integrated approach. Comptes Rendus Palevol 13, 737-746.

Souron A., 2011. Systematic of extant and extinct African Suidae inferred from landmark-based geometric morphometric analysis of cranio-mandibular shape. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31 (3s), 198.

Souron A., Merceron G., Blondel C., Brunetière N., Colyn M., Hofman-Kaminska E., Boisserie J.-R., 2015. Three-dimensional Dental Microwear Texture Analysis and diet in extant Suidae (Mammalia : Cetartiodactyla). Mammalia 79(3), 279-291.

Souron A., Boisserie J.-R., White T. D., 2015. A new species of Kolpochoerus from Ethiopia. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 60(1), 79-96.
Boisserie J.-R., 2014. The Hippopotamine Event. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34 (supplement 2), 94.

Souron A., Bibi F., Bocherens H., Uno K. et Boisserie J.-R., 2013. Decoupling between morphology and stable carbon isotopes in Plio-Pleistocene herbivorous mammals from the shungura formation (Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31 (supplement 1), 216-217.

Souron A., Balasse M., Boisserie J.-R., 2012. Intra-tooth isotopic profiles of canines from extant and fossil hippopotamids : insights into the seasonality of diet and climate. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 342–343, 97-110.

2. Communications in scientific meetings
Boisserie J.-R., De la recherche à la conservation du patrimoine : exemple des sites et des collections de la vallée de l’Omo en Éthiopie. Deuxième Table Ronde Archaeology, Histoire et Patrimoines. Centre d’Études et de Recherche de Djibouti, Djibouti, May 2016.
— The impact of climate change on fossil animals, with a focus on human evolution in eastern Africa. Coping with Climate and Environment Changes in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, Road to Paris, COP21. Centre Français des Études Éthiopiennes, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères and HoA-REC&N, Addis Ababa, April 2015.
— Les changements environnementaux, cause de l’apparition du genre humain ? Journée d’Étude de l’Espace Mendès France : Les origines de l’homme. Cycle « Rencontres du Vivant ». Poitiers, February 2012.
— Multidisciplinaryresearch on 2.5 million years of evolution in the Lower Omo Valley, SNNPR, Ethiopia. Lecture series : “Contemporary Archaeology in Ethiopia”, ARCCH-CFEE-DAI. Addis Ababa, December 2011.
— New paleontological record from the late early Pleistocene, Omo Group deposits, SNNPR, south-western Ethiopia. Third East African Association for Paleoanthropology and Paleontology (EAAPP) conference. Addis Ababa, August 2011.
— The Lower Omo Valley, SNNPR, Ethiopia : a natural laboratory of Plio-Pleistocene evolution in Africa. Lectures of the Archaeology and Palaeontology Association, Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, April 2011.
— Paleoanthropological sites of the LowerOmoValley, a unique heritage facing major changes. UNESCO “preparing for a road map”. Addis Ababa, February 2011.
— L’avènement du genre Homo, un aléa des changements climatiques ? Point de vue depuis la vallée de l’Omo (Éthiopie). Séminaire de Paléontologie Humaine, Collège de France. Paris, March 2009.
— La formation de Shungura, vallée de l’Omo, Éthiopie : un siècle de découvertes sur les paléoenvironnements africains. Journée en l’honneur de Raymonde Bonnefille, CEREGE. Aix-en-Provence, December 2008.
— Paleoanthropological research in the Omo Group deposits, Lower Omo Valley, SNNPR, Ethiopia. International Conference on Transforming the might of a century long research output into development, ARCCH & EMFNCSO. Addis Ababa, January 2008.

Boisserie J.-R. et al., Reconstructing the African background to human expansions in Eurasia : new research in the Shungura Formation, Ethiopia. Les premières expansions humaines en Eurasie à partir de l’Afrique : facteurs limitant ou favorisant, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. Paris, November 2008 (poster).

Delagnes A., The nature of the earliest hominin cultures. Symposium The nature of culture. University of Tübingen, June 2011.
— The Stone Age record of Ethiopia in the East African context. UNESCO meeting “Preparation of a Road Map to promote the inscription of African human origin sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List”. Addis Ababa, February 2011.

Delagnes A., Boisserie J.-R., Beyene Y., Archaeological investigations in the Omo Group deposits, SNNPR, south-western Ethiopia : preliminary results and perspectives. Third East African Association for Paleoanthropology and Palaeontology (EAAPP) conference. Addis Ababa, August 2011.

Delagnes A., Beyene Y., Boisserie J.-R., Archaeological investigations in the Lower Omo Valley : new prospects. International Conference on Transforming the might of a century long research output into development, ARCCH & EMFNCSO. Addis Ababa, January 2008.

Roche H., Boisserie J.-R., Des premiers hommes aux premières cultures. 2 – le bassin du lac Turkana. Colloque de restitution du programme ECLIPSE II, CNRS. Paris, October 2007 (poster).

Schuster M., Boisserie J.-R., Tiercelin J.-J., Les niveaux à cendres volcaniques du bassin du lac Turkana (Plio-Quaternaire ; Éthiopie et Kenya). 13ème Congrès de l’Association des Sédimentologistes de France. Dijon, November 2011 (poster).

Schuster M., Boisserie J.-R., Aperçu sédimentologique des sites à hominidés anciens de la basse vallée de l’Omo (Plio-Pléistocene, Éthiopie, rift est-africain). 12ème Congrès de l’Association des Sédimentologistes de France. Rennes, October 2009.

Souron A., Merceron G., Blondel C., Boisserie J.-R., 3D Dental Texture Microwear Analysis and diet in extant Suidae. From Past to Present : changing climates, ecosystems and environments of arid southern Africa. A tribute to Louis Scott. Bloemfontein, July 2014.

Souron A., Boisserie J.-R., Chavasseau O., Are we ready for faunal list-based meta-analyses of mammalian faunas ? A case study using Plio-PleistoceneAfricanSuidae. 14ème Congrès de l’Association Archéologique Panafricaine de Préhistoire et Disciplines associées. Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, July 2014.

Souron A., Boisserie J.-R., Balasse M., Investigating Pliocene seasonality in Africa : high resolution analyses of hippopotamid canines from the Shungura Formation, Omo Group, Ethiopia. Third East African Association for Paleoanthropology and Paleontology (EAAPP) conference. Addis Ababa, August 2011.

3. Defended PhD theses
Coillot T., 2014. Paléoclimats et biodiversité : apport des Equidae à la connaissance des modificationspaléoenvironnementales et paléoclimatiques en Afrique au cours des premières phases de l’histoire de l’homme (entre 7 Ma et 1 Ma). Thèse doctorale, Université de Poitiers, 472 p.

Souron A., 2012. Histoire évolutive du genre Kolpochoerus (Cetartiodactyla : Suidae) au Plio-Pléistocène en Afrique orientale. Thèse doctorale, Université de Poitiers, 517 p.