Koobi Fora Publications

Plio Pleistocene Excavations

Hominin Technology and Subsistence

The adaptive significance of stone artifacts remains a largely unexplored factor in the course of human evolution. Evidence that technological strategies are coupled with ecological resource structure would suggest that flaked stone technology contributed significantly to Pliocene hominin adaptive strategies. Such technological decisions, as recorded in stone artifact morphology may represent a cultural system comprising complex strategies of resource use in a dynamic environment (Binford 1973; Schiffer 1976; Shott 1989, Schick 1987, Toth 1987). 

Braun DR, Harris JWK, Levin NE, McCoy JT, Herries AIR, Bamford MK, Bishop LC, Richmond BG, Kibunjia M. 2010. Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(22): 10002.

Presnyakova D, Archer W, Braun DR, and Flear W. (2015) Documenting Differences between Early Stone Age Flake Production Systems: An Experimental Model and Archaeological Verification. PLoS One 10(6): e0130732.

The Origins of East African Pastoralism

The Galana Boi Formation, Lake Turkana, Kenya, provides so far the earliest evidence of herding in East Africa and therefore, represents a rare opportunity to study the dynamics of early pastoralist mobility and subsistence lifestyles during periods of increased climatic variability. This geological feature is intriguing because it may have been occupied by population groups that were distinct from most of those described in the African ethnographic record from the colonial period to the present (Blackburn 1974, 1982; Cronk 1989, 2002). Based on a number of archaeological studies (Dale 2007; Dale et al. 2004; Gifford et al. 1980; Lane 2004; Prendergast 2008; Ambrose 1984) from other localities in Kenya, it would appear that there was variability in hunter–gatherer and herder mobility and subsistence. 

Borona, Gloria, and Emmanuel Ndiema. "Merging research, conservation and community engagement: Perspectives from TARA's rock art community projects in Kenya." Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development 4.2 (2014): 184-195.

Ndiema E, Dillian CD, Braun DR, Harris JWK, Kiura P. 2011. Transport and subsistence patterns at the transition to pastoralism, Koobi Fora , Kenya. Archaeometry 47.

Kiura, Purity W. An ethnoarchaeology and stable isotope study on the diets of three modern groups of people in northern Kenya. RUTGERS THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY-NEW BRUNSWICK, 2006.

Footprints as Insights into Human Bipedalism and Ancient Environments

Footprints offer arguably the most direct means of testing hypotheses about gait characteristics in fossil taxa, as exemplified by the 3.7Ma Laetoli prints (Leakey, 1979). The only other set of early hominin footprints were discovered decades ago by one of us (AKB) in early Pleistocene sediments (c 1.43Ma) at the Koobi Fora site GaJi10 (Behrensmeyer et al. 1981). The persistence of the debate over the Laetoli prints is due in large part to a lack of fundamental data regarding how print morphology relates to foot anatomy and gait characteristics. New technology and methods that were not available at the time of discovery of the Laetoli prints now offer a far more rigorous means of examining the factors influencing the formation and morphology of prints, and allow us for the first time to collect the fundamental data needed to interpret footprint shape.


Roach, N. T., Hatala, K., Ostrofsky, K., Villmoare, B., Reeves, J., Du, A., Braun, D. R., Harris, J. W.K., Behrensmeyer, A. K., Richmond, B.G. (2016) Pleistocene footprints show intensive use of lake margin habitats by Homo erectus groups. Nature: Scientific Reports 6, 26374; doi: 10.1038/srep26374 (2016).

Hatala, Kevin G, Neil T Roach, Kelly R Ostrofsky, Roshna E Wunderlich, Heather L Dingwall, Brian A Villmoare, David J Green, John WK Harris, David R Braun and Brian G Richmond. "Footprints Reveal Direct Evidence of Group Behavior and Locomotion in Homo Erectus." Scientific Reports 6,(2016).

Bennett MR, Harris JWK, Richmond BG, Braun DR, Mbua E, Kiura P, Olago D, Kibunjia M, Omuombo C, Behrensmeyer AK. 2009. Early hominin foot morphology based on 1.5-million-year-old footprints from Ileret, Kenya. Science 323(5918): 1197.