By Jon Kalb

As co-founder of the day trip that found Lucy, and chief of lots of the first site-surveys within the Afar melancholy in Ethiopia, Jon Kalb has years of expertise with the area, its politics, and the scientists enthusiastic about 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 keep an eye on of the fossil unearths.

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Additional resources for Adventures in the Bone Trade: The Race to Discover Human Ancestors in Ethiopia's Afar Depression

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It was estimated that the metals were worth 2 to 3 billion dollars! Unfortunately, the Red Sea ores lay below 3000 meters of water. By 1970 various schemes had been proposed to pump the rich muds from the sea floor, but there were enormous technological and environmental problems to overcome, as well as major political problems, given that the Red Sea is bounded by seven countries that often seem to hate each other. King reasoned that because the northern Afar is geologically the southern extension of the Red Sea basin, deposits with origins similar to those of the metalliferous Red Sea muds might be found in the Depression—on dry land.

Fifteen kilometers north of Gewani, Maurice and I stopped at a roadcut where Trapp bulldozers were carving a path across a dry streambed. Still light-headed from “lunch,” we went to see some vertebrate fossils scattered nearby that Maurice knew about. There were elephant teeth, a hippopotamus jaw, and cone-shaped crocodile teeth. It was the first time I had seen such fossils in the field. ” Maurice thought they were about 3 million years old. ” I was staggered. ” Back in the Land Rover, we continued north until we came upon the strange sight of two grown men next to the road banging on rocks with little pointed hammers.

From there we crossed a wide plain marked with 2-meter-high termite mounds and herds of oryx, kudu, gazelle, and bush buck. Geologists call this area the Afar “funnel,” because here the rift opens dramatically into the Depression at the point where the Ethiopian escarpment turns sharply north toward the Red Sea and the southern Hararghe escarpment turns east toward the Gulf of Aden. Geologically, the escarpments represent the raised margins of the African and East African plates. The word funnel is misleading with regard to the Awash, however, because the river pours out of the top of the funnel, not its bottom (see Maps III and IV).

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