Turkana University College has partnered with Turkana Basin Institute in the study of human life in the area to enable them share how climate change affected human evolution.
The two institutions have been engaging and discussing ways to deepen their collaboration with a view to sharing the evolution story not just with locals but with the whole world.
Turkana Basin Institute Director Lawrence Martin said that not many Kenyans appreciate the unique record of history of life on this planet that is recorded in the rocks of the Turkana basin.
He noted that while other African countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa have little bits of human evolution story, the Turkana basin has the whole story.
“The Turkana people are lucky enough to be stewards of history. And we longed to have an education partner to share the story and that the public should enjoy the story. We hope it will come out of this partnership with both institutions,” said Dr. Martin.
According to him, the area is unmatched in history and is the real treasure of Kenya.
“We have learnt that every human living in the world today comes from a population of ancestors who lived around here (Turkana basin) between 40,000-80,000 years ago. It means the story written in the rocks of Turkana is everybody’s story,” he added.
Dr Martin said climate change turns out to be the major driver of all change in evolution.
“Big things happen in human evolution as a result of change of climate. We have a deep record of climate in the past and we can learn from the past and make predictions about the future,” he said.
The institute was established about 15 years ago to provide infrastructure to support research and education programmes in areas of science and research.
Turkana University Adjunct Professor, Isaiah Nengo said they will be working with a large team of international experts to look at the relationship between tectonic movement and how it shaped the landscape. Where the rivers are, the hills are, the lakes form and if that has any effect on climate and then look at how life responds to those changes.
“Does life mostly change as a result of being pushed by geographic change in landscape or is it climate, or is it both of them, he paused as he shared the hypothesis of the study.
He said the project will offer an opportunity for the students in the flagship master programme in human evolution biology to learn some of the cutting edge techniques of reconstruct
ing climate. They will study how to learn shapes and compare shapes.
“It will be a great opportunity for our university students to be part of this incredible scientific enterprise,” he said.
By Peter Gitonga