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Richard Curtis Graduate Researcher, Archaeology

My PhD is looking at late Miocene/early Pleistocene geochronology, palaeoclimate and thin section microscopy at Taung, South Africa to continue research dating one of the earliest known and first discovered Australopithecus africanus - 'The Taung Child'.

Ultimately, this research aims to provide a palaeoclimatic/palaeoenvironmental backdrop to the hominin evolution narrative emerging from palaeocaves across southern Africa as well as tightening the chronology of the Taung fossil site through studies on speleothems. A variety of scientific techniques on speleothems have been successfully used in palaeocave environments in South Africa, whether to establish robust chronologies (Dirks et al. 2010; Herries 2003; Pickering et al. 2011) or reconstruct past climates (Bar-Matthews et al. 2010; Doran et al. 2015; Hopley 2004; Hopley et al. 2007). Utilising this multidisciplinary approach is looking promising at aiding the understanding of the complex climatic and environmental conditions that led to hominin speciation and eventually a number of dispersals out of Africa.

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