Lothagam

Paleontological site located in Lake Turkana, Kenya, with sedimentary sequences dated from the Miocene to the Holocene.

2.90562, 36.055863

 

On the western shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya, Lothagam presents an array of sedimentary sequences constituting one of the African continent's longest fossil sequences, from the Late Miocene about 7 million years ago to the Lower Pleistocene close to 2 million years ago. There are also Holocene sites where thousands of archaeological remains 9000 to 7000 years old have been found, with highlights being the harpoons worked in bone and the North Pillar Site, an assemblage of stones aligned in a formation reminiscent of Stonehenge.

From a geological point of view, this is one of the most spectacular spots on the west side of Lake Turkana, well-known for its distinctive beds of reddish sediments. Due to tectonic activity in the basin over millions of years, these beds have become inclined, deformed and eroded. Some of the iron-rich sediments have been chiseled away slowly by the rain, leaving winding gullies and gorges. Numerous paleontological expeditions to Lothagam since the 1970s, and especially in the 1990s, retrieved a large number of fossils, including partial skeletons and skulls of primates, carnivores, tortoises, hippopotamuses, suids, and elephants, as well as gastropods, crustaceans, plants, and birds. Although isolated remains of ancient hominins were recovered in different strata, their scarcity has conventionally been interpreted as due to unfavorable environmental conditions for hominins at Lothagam. 

The Lothagam Miocene and Pliocene deposits have not been prospected in 30 years. Since 2022, the prospection and research work headed by Ignacio A. Lazagabaster of the CENIEH and John Rowan (University of Albany, USA), and funded by the Turkana Basin Institute (Kenya), has brought to light over 600 fossils, including some of the most ancient hominin remains known