The Middle Awash is an archaeological site along the Awash River in Ethiopia's Afar Depression. A number of Pleistocene and late Miocene hominid remains have been found at the site, along with some of the oldest known Olduwan stone artifacts and patches of fire-baked clay, disputed evidence of the use of fire. Chimpanzee and human lineages are thought to have split around this time, somewhere between 5 million and 7 million years ago.
Sediments at the site were originally deposited in lakes or rivers, and carbonates found there contain low carbon isotope ratios. This information suggests that, in contrast to the aridity of the current climate, the environment of the Middle Awash during the late Miocene was wet, and the region was occupied by woodland or grassy woodland habitats. The fossilized remains of vertebrates found with the hominids, including the cane rat, further suggest such an environment. The region was also the site of periodic volcanism. This rifting probably created distinct ecological regions inhabited by different species of vertebrate animals.
Important hominid fossils found in the Middle Awash include:
- Ardipithecus kadabba
Ardipithecus is a fossil hominoid, described by its discoverers as a very early hominin genus. Two species are described in the literature: A. ramidus, which lived about 4.4 million years ago during the early Pliocene, and A. kadabba, dated to approximately 5.6 million years ago (late Miocene).
- Ardipithecus ramidus
- Australopithecus afarensis
- Australopithecus garhi
- Australopithecus anamensis
- Homo erectus
- Homo sapiens idaltu found at Herto Bouri. Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia