Professor Charles Musiba, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver, United States

Tuesday 23–Wednesday 24 January 5.00 pm COURSE FEES R220; Staff and students R110


The volcanic-derived sediments at Laetoli in northern Tanzania preserve a plethora of fossilised fauna remains and animal trackways that provide evidence of human origins in eastern Africa 3.66 million years ago. Of particular interests are hominin remains and footprints assigned to Australopithecus afarensis. Ongoing research at Laetoli has recovered hominin remains, including two robust-like mandibles that will provide significant information on the possible existence of multiple species of australopithecines at Laetoli between 3.5 and 3.8 million years ago. The first lecture will discuss these findings.

Although designated archaeological World Heritage Sites of human origins play a major role in shaping the socio-economic, stewardship, conservation and sustainable use of communities surrounding them, their strict and rigorous operations hinder any meaningful community participation. This disconnects communities from these sites, thereby stripping them any decision-making powers in the conservation, management, and sustainable use of these sites. Ending the disparities of the colonial era in a postcolonial UNESCO is key to generating alternative, more equitable modes of conservation and sustainable use of these sites. The second lecture will discuss some conservation challenges of Laetoli fossil hominin footprints and the ongoing development of the paleoanthropological sites of Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania as examples to show how local communities can benefit from these sites.

Lecture titles

  1. Hominin diversity at Pliocene Laetoli
  2. Who owns the past: centring conservation of hominin footprints at Laetoli