In Search of Human Origins–the Oceanic View

IODP Expedition 361 drilled six sites off Southern Africa in Feb-March 2016. Our objectives were to: 1) recover a complete record of African climate and ecological history–from dust, pollen, soot, and marine fossils–in off shore drill sites from the Mozambique Channel (near Madagascar) to Cape Town; 2) a record of the history of the Agulhas Current, one of the the largest rivers on Earth. In both cases, our goal (and our success!) was to drill into the seabed to recover seafloor mud from the last 5-7 million years–the time period in which our ancestors first split from the Chimpanzees (5-7 Ma), to the spread of first Homo erectus (~1.8 Ma), and later modern humans (~70 kyr) out of Africa.

We had many adventures, starting the cruise in Mauritius (home of the Dodo) and ending in Cape Town, South Africa. Here is what I was expecting (the first episode) we did (the middle episodes) and, in the last episode, what we found…

I recently participated in International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 361–the “African Safari”–to drill off SE Africa to recover a record of African climate and ecological evolution during the time humans, and out ancestors, were evolving on land. Here are a couple videos that talk about the cruise, from what I expected to find to what actually happened on the cruise.