Tomorrow I head out the Republic of Georgia, where I’ll be helping at the Dmanisi Paleoanthropology Field School. The site is pretty important for human origins. It is the earliest hominid site outside of Africa (~1.77 million years ago), and so helps document the earliest periods when humans first became a colonizing species. There are a number of fairly complete skulls and a few partial skeletons. What we see in the cranial and mandibular remains is a great deal of morphological variation; however, it is very possible that this fossil assemblage samples a single population. This is important to take into account since many anthropologists are quick to use subtle variations to argue for the presence of multiple species. Also, researchers from a number of countries have come together to work at this exciting site.
So what we have at Dmanisi are very early human ancestors, which point to a high level of intraspecific morphological variation. Hopefully this field school will recover something fun and interesting. I’m told we’ll have internet at the site, so I’ll try to keep the blog up to date on the goings on at the site.