Nairobi, Kenya
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Cerling T.E.,University of Utah | Chritz K.L.,University of Utah | Jablonski N.G.,Pennsylvania State University | Leakey M.G.,Turkana Basin Institute | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2013

Theropithecus was a common large-bodied primate that cooccurred with hominins in many Plio-Pleistocene deposits in East and South Africa. Stable isotope analyses of tooth enamel from T. brumpti (4.0-2.5 Ma) and T. oswaldi (2.0-1.0 Ma) in Kenya show that the earliest Theropithecus at 4 Ma had a diet dominated by C4 resources. Progressively, this genus increased the proportion of C4-derived resources in its diet and by 1.0 Ma, had a diet that was nearly 100% C4-derived. It is likely that this diet was comprised of grasses or sedges; stable isotopes cannot, by themselves, give an indication of the relative importance of leaves, seeds, or underground storage organs to the diet of this primate. Theropithecus throughout the 4- to 1-Ma time range has a diet that is more C4-based than contemporaneous hominins of the genera Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus, and Homo; however, Theropithecus and Paranthropus have similar proportions of C4-based resources in their respective diets.


Cerling T.E.,University of Utah | Mbua E.,National Museums of Kenya | Kirera F.M.,National Museums of Kenya | Manthi F.K.,National Museums of Kenya | And 6 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2011

The East African hominin Paranthropus boisei was characterized by a suite of craniodental features that have been widely interpreted as adaptations to a diet that consisted of hard objects that required powerful peak masticatory loads. These morphological adaptations represent the culmination of an evolutionary trend that began in earlier taxa such as Australopithecus afarensis, and presumably facilitated utilization of open habitats in the Plio-Pleistocene. Here, we use stable isotopes to show that P. boisei had a diet that was dominated by C4 biomass such as grasses or sedges. Its diet included more C4 biomass than any other hominin studied to date, including its congener Paranthropus robustus from South Africa. These results, coupled with recent evidence from dental microwear, may indicate that the remarkable craniodental morphology of this taxon represents an adaptation for processing large quantities of low-quality vegetation rather than hard objects.


Kioko E.,National Museums of Kenya | Zethner O.,Independent Environmental Services Professional
Annual Review of Entomology | Year: 2011

African forests, which host some of the world's richest biodiversity, are rapidly diminishing. The loss of flora and fauna includes economically and socially important insects. Honey bees and silk moths, grouped under commercial insects, are the source for insect-based enterprises that provide income to forest-edge communities to manage the ecosystem. However, to date, research output does not adequately quantify the impact of such enterprises on buffering forest ecosystems and communities from climate change effects. Although diseases/pests of honey bees and silk moths in Africa have risen to epidemic levels, there is a dearth of practical research that can be utilized in developing effective control mechanisms that port the proliferation of these commercial insects as pollinators of agricultural and forest ecosystems. This review highlights the critical role of commercial insects within the environmental complexity of African forest ecosystems, in modern agroindustry, and with respect to its potential contribution to poverty alleviation and pollination services. It identifies significant research gaps that exist in understanding how insects can be utilized as ecosystem health indicators and nurtured as integral tools for important socioeconomic and industrial gains. © 2011 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Ward C.V.,University of Missouri | Plavcan J.M.,University of Arkansas | Manthi F.K.,National Museums of Kenya | Manthi F.K.,State University of New York at Stony Brook
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

Australopithecus anamensis is the earliest known species of the Australopithecus-human clade and is the likely ancestor of Australopithecus afarensis. Investigating possible selective pressures underlying these changes is key to understanding the patterns of selection shaping the origins and early evolution of the Australopithecus-human clade. During the course of the Au. anamensis-afarensis lineage, significant changes appear to occur particularly in the anterior dentition, but also in jaw structure and molar form, suggesting selection for altered diet and/or food processing. Specifically, canine tooth crown height does not change, but maxillary canines and P3s become shorter mesiodistally, canine tooth crowns become more symmetrical in profile and P3s less unicuspid. Canine roots diminish in size and dimorphism, especially relative to the size of the postcanine teeth. Molar crowns become higher. Tooth rows become more divergent and symphyseal form changes. Dietary change involving anterior dental use is also suggested by less intense anterior tooth wear in Au. afarensis. These dental changes signal selection for altered dietary behaviour and explain some differences in craniofacial form between these taxa. These data identify Au. anamensis not just as a more primitive version of Au. afarensis, but as a dynamic member of an evolving lineage leading to Au. afarensis, and raise intriguing questions about what other evolutionary changes occurred during the early evolution of the Australopithecus-human clade, and what characterized the origins of the group. © 2010 The Royal Society.


Ward C.V.,University of Missouri | Manthi F.K.,National Museums of Kenya | Plavcan J.M.,University of Arkansas
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2013

Renewed fieldwork from 2003 through 2008 at the Australopithecus anamensis type-site of Kanapoi, Kenya, yielded nine new fossils attributable to this species. These fossils all date to between 4.195 and 4.108 million years ago. Most were recovered from the lower fluvial sequence at the site, with one from the lacustrine sequence deltaic sands that overlie the lower fluvial deposits but are still below the Kanapoi Tuff. The new specimens include a partial edentulous mandible, partial maxillary dentition, two partial mandibular dentitions, and five isolated teeth. The new Kanapoi hominin fossils increase the sample known from the earliest Australopithecus, and provide new insights into morphology within this taxon. They support the distinctiveness of the early A.anamensis fossils relative to earlier hominins and to the later Australopithecus afarensis. The new fossils do not appreciably extend the range of observed variation in A.anamensis from Kanapoi, with the exception of some slightly larger molars, and a canine tooth root that is the largest in the hominin fossil record. All of the Kanapoi hominins share a distinctive morphology of the canine-premolar complex, typical early hominin low canine crowns but with mesiodistally longer honing teeth than seen in A.afarensis, and large, probably dimorphic, canine tooth roots. The new Kanapoi specimens support the observation that canine crown height, morphology, root size and dimorphism were not altered from a primitive ape-like condition as part of a single event in human evolution, and that there may have been an adaptive difference in canine function between A.anamensis and A.afarensis. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Abdillahi H.S.,National Museums of Kenya | Van Staden J.,University of KwaZulu - Natal
Planta Medica | Year: 2013

Plants have played significant roles as medicine during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care in many rural areas of the world. In addition to this, plants have been used for centuries to treat infertility and related reproduction problems. The aim of this paper was to review the current status of plant species used in maternal healthcare, including infertility, in South Africa, in terms of scientific evaluation for efficacy and safety. In addition to this, the role of medicinal plants as a tool in achieving the MDG5 of reducing maternal mortality by 2015 was evaluated. A search was done with the aid of Google Scholar, PubMed, Science Direct, peer-reviewed papers, and books, using keywords such as child birth, labour pain, maternal health, maternal mortality, menstrual pains, and postpartum. The plants listed in the different research articles were classified according to their use and the target effect of a plant extract or compound on reproductive function. Eighty-four plant species were found to be used to treat infertility and related problems. Twenty plant species are used during pregnancy, while 26 plant species are used to ease childbirth. For postpartum healing and any problems after childbirth, nine plant species were recorded. Unhealthy pregnancy and birth complications are among the factors that contribute to the loss of cognitive potential in the developing worlds children, condemning them to impoverished lives. The best way to keep a country poor is to rob its children of their full developmental potential. In this respect, medicinal plants play a significant role in reducing maternal mortality and ensuring the birth of healthy children. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart New York.


Roba H.G.,National Museums of Kenya | Oba G.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Environmental Management | Year: 2013

The recent greening of the Sahel region and increase in vegetation cover around pastoral settlements previously described as "man-made deserts", have raised important questions on the permanency of land degradation associated with the over-exploitation of woody plants. Evidence presented is mostly on increased wetness, while management by local communities has received limited attention. This study evaluated changes in woody vegetation cover around the settlements of Kargi and Korr in northern Kenya, using satellite imagery (1986/2000), ecological ground surveys and interviews with local elders, in order to understand long-term changes in vegetation cover and the role of local community in vegetation dynamics. At both settlements, there were increments in vegetation cover and reduction in the extent of bare ground between 1986 and 2000. At Kargi settlement, there were more tree seedlings in the centre of settlement than further away. Mature tree class was more abundant in the centre of Korr than outside the settlement. The success of the regeneration and recovery of tree cover was attributed to the actions of vegetation management initiative including stringent measures by the local Environmental Management Committees. This study provides good evidence that local partnership is important for sustainable management of resources especially in rural areas where the effectiveness of government initiative is lacking. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.


Tryon C.A.,Harvard University | Crevecoeur I.,University of Bordeaux 1 | Faith J.T.,University of Queensland | Ekshtain R.,Harvard University | And 5 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2015

Kenya National Museums Lukenya Hill Hominid 1 (KNM-LH 1) is a Homo sapiens partial calvaria from site GvJm-22 at Lukenya Hill, Kenya, associated with Later Stone Age (LSA) archaeological deposits. KNM-LH 1 is securely dated to the Late Pleistocene, and samples a time and region important for understanding the origins of modern human diversity. A revised chronology based on 26 accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dates on ostrich eggshells indicates an age range of 23,576-22,887 y B.P. for KNM-LH 1, confirming prior attribution to the Last Glacial Maximum. Additional dates extend the maximum age for archaeological deposits at GvJm-22 to >46,000 y B.P. (>46 kya). These dates are consistent with new analyses identifying both Middle Stone Age and LSA lithic technologies at the site, making GvJm-22 a rare eastern African record of major human behavioral shifts during the Late Pleistocene. Comparative morphometric analyses of the KNM-LH 1 cranium document the temporal and spatial complexity of early modern human morphological variability. Features of cranial shape distinguish KNM-LH 1 and other Middle and Late Pleistocene African fossils from crania of recent Africans and samples from Holocene LSA and European Upper Paleolithic sites.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IIFR | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IIF | Award Amount: 15.00K | Year: 2015

Kenyas avifauna is one of the better studied in Africa, second probably only to South Africa. Despite this, and whilst there are many bird watchers active in Kenya and thousands of tourists visit Kenya specifically for ornithological safaris, we still know very little about changes that have occurred in species distribution and status over the past 25-50 years. Range extensions and contractions have been noted but only from ad hoc observations. While records of birds found in Kenya are very much up to date, a real gap exists in our understanding of avian distributions and the contribution of changing global climate on observed species distribution patterns. Over a timeline of 2 years based at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, during which the applicant will initiate the project and receive thorough training in the techniques required to achieve the project, followed by a third year return to the National Museums of Kenya, where the applicant will transfer these techniques to local parties who will be vital to the continual expansion of the project, this proposed project will provide the applicant with the required training to enable him to take community based observational data, and use it in order to deliver a demand driven, continually evolving web-based bird atlas for Kenya. In addition to mapping the current avian diversity, the atlas will contain climate-based species niche modelling and genetic data, in order to provide a comprehensive view of the avifauna and its future prospects. This will consolidate the position of the host institute as one of the most innovative Natural History Museums in the world, in particular with regards to moving away from standard collecting to innovative new ways of bringing natural history to the public.


Werdelin L.,Swedish Museum of Natural History | Manthi F.K.,National Museums of Kenya
Journal of African Earth Sciences | Year: 2012

The assemblage from Kanapoi represents the most diverse early Pliocene carnivore assemblage from sub-Saharan Africa. Carnivora from Kanapoi were originally described by Werdelin (2003a), but continuing field work has brought to light significant new material from the site, shedding new light on the earliest post-Miocene radiation of Carnivora in Africa. Most importantly, a second species of Enhydriodon has been recovered from the site, including the first specimen to include a large part of the neurocranium. This makes Kanapoi the first site to include two species of this genus. This addition to the fauna will be of prime significance to understanding the ecology and evolutionary radiation of these giant, extinct otters. Other significant new finds include additional material of a wildcat-sized felid. Finds of this group are rare, and the new Kanapoi material adds significantly to our knowledge of the stem lineage of the genus Felis, which is widespread in Africa today. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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