Fredrick Manthi

Fredrick Manthi
National Museums of Kenya · Department of Earth Sciences

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74
Publications
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Publications

Publications (74)
Article
We describe two new osteolaemine crocodylids from the Early and early Middle Miocene of Kenya: Kinyang mabokoensis tax. nov. (Maboko, 15 Ma) and Kinyang tchernovi tax. nov. (Karungu and Loperot, 18 Ma). Additional material referable to Kinyang is known from Chianda and Moruorot. The skull was broad and dorsoventrally deep, and the genus can be diag...
Article
Stable isotope palaeoecology of fossil mammals is a key research tool for understanding the environmental context of hominin evolution in the Plio-Pleistocene of Africa. Well studied mammal groups include bovids, suids, equids, proboscideans and primates, but to date there has been no in-depth study of modern and fossil carnivores. Here we produce...
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Multiple lines of genetic and archaeological evidence suggest that there were major demographic changes in the terminal Late Pleistocene epoch and early Holocene epoch of sub-Saharan Africa1,2,3,4. Inferences about this period are challenging to make because demographic shifts in the past 5,000 years have obscured the structures of more ancient pop...
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Consuming the milk of other species is a unique adaptation of Homo sapiens, with implications for health, birth spacing and evolution. Key questions nonetheless remain regarding the origins of dairying and its relationship to the genetically-determined ability to drink milk into adulthood through lactase persistence (LP). As a major centre of LP di...
Conference Paper
The assembly of Africa’s iconic C4 grassland and savanna ecosystems is central to evolutionary interpretations of many mammals, including hominins. Based largely on pollen, biomarkers, and isotopic data, C4 grasses are thought to have become ecologically dominant in Africa only after 10 Ma. However, paleobotanical records older than 10 Ma are spars...
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Comparative morphometric study of recently recovered fossil elephant molars from Natodomeri, Kenya identifies them as belonging to Elephas jolensis and confirms the presence of this species in Members I and II of the Kibish Formation. Improved datation of these geological units constrains them between 205 and 130 ka. Elephas jolensis is also report...
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Increasing evidence for both taxonomic diversity and early stone manufacture during the Pliocene highlights the importance of the hominin fossil record from this epoch in eastern Africa. Here, we describe dental remains from Lomekwi (West Turkana, Kenya), which date from between 3.2 and 3.5 Ma. The sample was collected between 1982 and 2009 and inc...
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Africa hosts the greatest human genetic diversity globally, but legacies of ancient population interactions and dispersals across the continent remain understudied. Here, we report genome-wide data from 20 ancient sub-Saharan African individuals, including the first reported ancient DNA from the DRC, Uganda, and Botswana. These data demonstrate the...
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This paper introduces this Special Issue of the Journal of Human Evolution entitled "Kanapoi: Paleobiology of a Pliocene site in Kenya." Kanapoi, West Turkana, Kenya, is part of the Omo-Turkana Basin and is the type site of the earliest known genus of Australopithecus, A. anamensis. Kanapoi preserves among the earliest earliest evidence of Australo...
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Recent fieldwork at Kanapoi has expanded the sample of fossil cercopithecids, facilitating a re-appraisal of their taxonomy. The assemblage now includes at least one species of cercopithecin, two papionins, and two colobines. The guenon Nanopithecus browni is similar in dental size to extant Miopithecus. We tentatively re-affirm the identification...
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Australopithecus anamensis is a pivotal species in human evolution. It is likely to be the direct ancestor of Australopithecus afarensis and the species that may have given rise to the Homo and Paranthropus lineages. It had a suite of adaptations for habitual bipedalism and a diet that differed from that of earlier hominin species. Under what envir...
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A new species of Nyanzachoerus (Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Suidae, Tetraconodontinae), Nyanzachoerus nakaliensis, is described on the basis of gnathodental specimens from the basal upper Miocene Nakali Formation (ca. 10 Ma) of central Kenya. Ny. nakaliensis is characterized by a lower crown height and relatively weaker furrows of the molars and propor...
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It has been suggested that a shift in diet is one of the key adaptations that distinguishes the genus Homo from earlier hominins, but recent stable isotopic analyses of fossils attributed to Homo in the Turkana Basin show an increase in the consumption of C4 resources circa 1.65 million years ago, significantly after the earliest evidence for Homo...
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Although modern guenons are diverse and abundant in Africa, the fossil record of this group is surprisingly sparse. In 2012 the West Turkana Paleo Project team recovered two associated molar teeth of a small primate from the Pliocene site of Kanapoi, West Turkana, Kenya. The teeth are bilophodont and the third molar lacks a hypoconulid, which is di...
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How food production first entered eastern Africa ~5000 years ago and the extent to which people moved with livestock is unclear. We present genome-wide data from 41 individuals associated with Later Stone Age, Pastoral Neolithic (PN), and Iron Age contexts in what are now Kenya and Tanzania to examine the genetic impacts of the spreads of herding a...
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In 1967 G.G. Simpson described three partial mandibles from early Miocene deposits in Kenya that he interpreted as belonging to a new strepsirrhine primate, Propotto. This interpretation was quickly challenged, with the assertion that Propotto was not a primate, but rather a pteropodid fruit bat. The latter interpretation has not been questioned fo...
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Fossil bats from the Pliocene of Africa are extremely rare, especially in East Africa where meager records have been reported only from two localities in the Omo River Basin Shungura Formation and from a scattering of localities in the Afar Depression, both in Ethiopia. Here we report on a diverse assemblage of bats from Kanapoi in the Turkana Basi...
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The partial skull of a lion from Natodomeri, northwest Kenya is described. The Natodomeri sites are correlated with Member I of the Kibish Formation, dated to between 195 ka and ca. 205 ka. The skull is remarkable for its very great size, equivalent to the largest cave lions ( Panthera spelaea [Goldfuss, 1810]) of Pleistocene Eurasia and much large...
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Carbon isotope ratios of mammalian teeth from the Kanapoi site in northern Kenya are interpreted in the context of C3 and C4 derived resources to investigate the paleoecology of Australopithecus anamensis. δ(13)C values of large mammals, when compared at the taxon level, show an ecosystem that is strongly biased towards mixed feeders and browsers....
Article
Kanapoi, Kenya, has yielded the earliest evidence of the genus Australopithecus, Australopithecus anamensis. Renewed fieldwork from 2012 through 2015 yielded 18 new fossils attributable to this species. The new specimens include the second maxillary fragment known from a Kanapoi hominin and the first from a relatively young adult. The new maxilla h...
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We describe here an ichthyological and herpetological assemblage that was obtained from washing-screening sediments from the early late Oligocene locality of Lokone, Kenya. This provides original information on the hitherto oldest known fauna from the East African Rift since it started to open from north to south during the Oligocene. The descripti...
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Reconstructions of habitat at sites like Kanapoi are key to understanding the environmental circumstances in which hominins evolved during the early Pliocene. While Australopithecus anamensis shows evidence of terrestrial bipedality traditionally associated with a more open setting, its enamel has low δ¹³C values consistent with consumption of C3 f...
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A large stable isotope dataset from East and Central Africa from ca. 30 regional collection sites that range from forest to grassland shows that most extant East and Central African large herbivore taxa have diets dominated by C4 grazing or C3 browsing. Comparison with the fossil record shows that faunal assemblages from ca. 4.1-2.35 Ma in the Turk...
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Dietary analyses of herbivorous mammals are important for paleoecological reconstruction. Several methods applicable to fossil teeth have been developed lately. The mesowear method based on wear-induced occlusal shape and relief of ungulate molars has proven to be a robust method for dietary analysis. In its original form it can only be used for se...
Conference Paper
Timing and magnitude of vertical motions of the Earth’s crust is key to evaluate the impact of tectonic processes on changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, rainfall, and environmental conditions. The East African Plateau (EAP) is a major topographic feature that fundamentally impacts the patterns of the Indian-African Monsoon and the eastward...
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Timing and magnitude of surface uplift are key to understanding the impact of crustal deformation and topographic growth on atmospheric circulation, environmental conditions, and surface processes. Uplift of the East African Plateau is linked to mantle processes, but paleoaltimetry data are too scarce to constrain plateau evolution and subsequent v...
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Timing and magnitude of surface uplift are key to understanding the impact of crustal deformation and topographic growth on atmospheric circulation, environmental conditions, and surface processes. Uplift of the East African Plateau is linked to mantle processes, but paleoaltimetry data are too scarce to constrain plateau evolution and subsequent v...
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According to molecular data, hippopotamuses and cetaceans form a clade excluding other extant cetartiodactyls. Despite a wealth of spectacular specimens documenting cetacean evolution, this relationship remains poorly substantiated by the fossil record. Indeed, the evolutionary path leading from the hippo-cetacean ancestor to Hippopotamidae is plag...
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Until recently, our understanding of the evolution of human growth and development derived from studies of fossil juveniles that employed extant populations for both age determination and comparison. This circular approach has led to considerable debate about the human-like and ape-like affinities of fossil hominins. Teeth are invaluable for unders...
Conference Paper
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Deciphering the timing and magnitude of vertical crustal motions is key to understanding the impact of tectonic uplift on changes in atmospheric circulation, rainfall, and environmental conditions. Uplift of the East African Plateau (EAP) of Kenya has been linked to mantle processes, but paleoaltimetry data are still too scarce to unambiguously con...
Conference Paper
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During the 1964 Harvard West Turkana Expedition to Loperot, Kenya, a fossil beaked whale skull fragment (KNM-LP 52956) was discovered by James G. Mead. Ziphiid whales are deep-diving odontocetes, which occasionally enter rivers, such as the 2006 example of the Thames whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) in the City of London. However, this ziphiid specime...
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Despite discoveries of relatively complete hands from two early hominin species (Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus sediba) and partial hands from another (Australopithecus afarensis), fundamental questions remain about the evolution of human-like hand anatomy and function. These questions are driven by the paucity of hand fossils in the hom...
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Fontes-Villalba et al. (1) correctly observe that carbon isotope ratios in tooth enamel do not speak directly to plant versus animal food ingestion. Carbon isotope ratio data are useful for quantifying the consumption of C3- or C4-derived carbon, whether it comes directly from C3 or C4 plants or indirectly through consumption of animals that eat th...
Conference Paper
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Ziphiid whales are deep diving odontocetes, which occasionally enter rivers, such as the 2006 example of the Thames whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus). Their fossil record in Africa derives mainly from specimens dredged off the South African coast, with the notable exception of a skull fragment discovered by the 1964 Harvard expedition to Loperot, West...
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We describe here new ruminant material and revise previous collections from the Pliocene site of Kanapoi in northwestern Kenya, at c. 4 Ma., leading to substantial changes in the identifications and faunal list. Tragelaphins are the most common bovids; reduncins are quite rare if present; hippotragins are probably represented by a form previously u...
Article
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...
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Hominin fossil evidence in the Turkana Basin in Kenya from ca. 4.1 to 1.4 Ma samples two archaic early hominin genera and records some of the early evolutionary history of Paranthropus and Homo. Stable carbon isotopes in fossil tooth enamel are used to estimate the fraction of diet derived from C3 or C4 resources in these hominin taxa. The earliest...
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Theropithecus was a common large-bodied primate that co-occurred 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 ge...
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Carbon isotope studies of early hominins from southern Africa showed that their diets differed markedly from the diets of extant apes. Only recently, however, has a major influx of isotopic data from eastern Africa allowed for broad taxonomic, temporal, and regional comparisons among hominins. Before 4 Ma, hominins had diets that were dominated by...
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‘Crocodylus’ pigotti is a relatively small crocodylid from the Miocene of Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, Kenya. Known only from one relatively complete skull and limited, fragmentary, referred material, ‘Crocodylus’ pigotti lacks a detailed description. Moreover, recent analyses have shown ‘Crocodylus’ pigotti to be an osteolaemine crocodylid, mo...
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Environmental reconstructions of early Miocene sites are important for understanding the remarkable diversity and abundance of African mammals today. These provide essential context for the faunal interchange that occurred with the appearance of land bridges between Afro-Arabia and Eurasia. Tragulids, for example, were ecological precursors of some...
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Early hystricognathous rodents from Africa are primarily documented by two basal and extinct groups, the paraphyletic “Phiomyidae” and the Gaudeamuridae, which were particularly well diversified through the late Eocene and the early Oligocene. However, in the absence of a comprehensive late Oligocene fossil record, the evolutionary history of Afric...
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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 Af...
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Whilst reduced size, altered shape and diminished sexual dimorphism of the canine-premolar complex are diagnostic features of the hominin clade, little is known about the rate and timing of changes in canine size and shape in early hominins. The earliest Australopithecus, Australopithecus anamensis, had canine crowns similar in size to those of its...
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We thank Godfrey et al. (1) for their comments comparing the possible diet of Hadropithecus with that of Paranthropus boisei (2, 3). We wrote: “Indeed, the only known haplorrhine primate with a similar carbon isotope composition is the extinct grass-eating baboon Theropithecus oswaldi,” which explicitly excluded Hadropithecus and other Malagasy str...
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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...
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Recent excavations in northwestern Kenya have recovered a vertebrate fauna of late early or early late Oligocene age. Among the mammal remains, a fragmentary lower jaw and an isolated upper molar have been attributed to a small primate, Lokonepithecus manai gen. et sp. nov. Lokonepithecus is a primitive member of the Parapithecidae and possibly mos...
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An isolated pterosaurian caudal cervical (~ postcervical) vertebra was recovered from the Upper Cretaceous Lapurr sandstone of West Turkana, northwestern Kenya. The vertebral centrum is short, wide, and dorsoventrally compressed. Although the specimen is lightly built similar to most pterosaurs, it is here referred to Pterodactyloidea and tentative...
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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. Duri...