Imagine you’re a paleontologist, digging through the Sahara desert looking for dinosaur bones and you stumble, instead, upon this wondrous find:
That’s exactly what happened to Paleontologist Paul Sereno and his team back in 2000, and they have announced their findings from their excavations of this region in Northern Niger in National Geographic this week. This team unexpectedly unearthed 200 human burials on the shores of a long dried up lake, representing two very distinct cultures spanning 5000 years (between 4500 to about 9000 years ago). The image shown above is of their ‘most striking discovery’, and depicts a woman and two children, ages 5 and 8, holding hands. They also found pollen in the grave, suggesting that they may have been laid on a bed of flowers. Very cool stuff. These researchers have located the remnants of two human tribes that are thought to have lived in the Sahara during the Holocene period, when environmental factors culminated in a ‘greening’ of the desert, which attracted human inhabitants.
Here’s a video featuring an interview with Paul Sereno and some nice shots of their excavation sites. They give a really nice overview of what they have discovered about the two distinct colonies found, and how they may have lived. You can also read the whole story in National Geographic, if you’re so inclined, where you will also find a link to additional photos of the site and their excavations, which are quite amazing.
From guest blogger LisaJ