In collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, the Homa Peninsula Research Project encompasses 14 fossil-rich gullies over an area of ~260 km2 surrounding Mount Homa in the Nyanza Rift on the eastern side of Lake Victoria. Since 1985, this project has carried out paleontological, archeological, geological, and paleoenvironmental research on sediments dated between ~6 million and 10,000 years old. The Homa Peninsula project thus encompasses the whole of human evolutionary history yet in a region (Nyanza Rift) that is relatively poorly studied. The project is co-led by Dr. Rick Potts (Director, Human Origins Program) and Dr. Thomas Plummer (NMNH Research Associate and Department of Anthropology, CUNY-Queens). Dr. Rahab Kinyanjui represents the NMK (Department of Earth Sciences) as project co-PI.
Recent research finds include: (1) oldest evidence of early human toolmakers inhabiting open grassland (published 2009 in PLOS ONE); (2) oldest evidence of persistent meat-eating by our early ancestors (published 2013 in PLOS ONE); and (3) oldest evidence of large animal butchery and of the hominin lineage Paranthropus (publication in progress).
Currently, this project involves five NMNH scientists and Research Associates (R. Potts, J.B. Clark, T. Plummer, S. Blumenthal, J. Parkinson); an additional 10 scientists from eight institutions in five countries; and 25 local excavation crew members. Like the Southern Kenya Rift Project, the Homa Peninsula Research Project is supported by an MOU with the National Museums of Kenya, which (beginning 1987) established (1) the collaboration between the Smithsonian Human Origins Program and the NMK Department of Earth Sciences; (2) support for NMK staff training and infrastructure; and (3) facilities for SI Human Origins projects (e.g., collections care; equipment storage).