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Bones of Turkana Education

Learn About Human Evolution in the Turkana Basin

Photograph courtesy National Geographic Television

Bones of Turkana, a National Geographic special, follows the story of famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey and his wife Meave, daughter Louise, and their colleagues as they work in the arid northern regions of Kenya’s Turkana Basin to unravel the mysteries of human evolution. While one of the Leakeys’ goals is to demonstrate the complexity and truth of human evolution, they also seek to show how the qualities that we proudly call human were all born in Africa. Bones of Turkana features music by Paul Simon and the Kenya Boys Choir, and follows Leakey and his team through perhaps the most formative of all landscapes—the place of all our pasts—in a search for the traits that make us human.

This collection of short activities and selected videos from the film Bones of Turkana invites you to use current classroom technologies, photo galleries, and maps to give students the opportunity to learn about human evolution and to explore one of the few places on the planet that offers the more than 4.5-million year continuum of the human story.

Generous support for this education program provided by David H. Koch, William H. Donner Foundation, and the Charles Englehard Foundation.

Four Million Years of Hominid History

These videos address the discovery of fossil hominids in the Turkana Basin and insights to human evolution.

What Makes Us Human?

What Makes Us Human?

Learn how Richard Leakey and his team traverse four million years of hominid history in search of the characteristics that make us uniquely human.

Discoveries at Lake Turkana

Discoveries at Lake Turkana

Significant fossil discoveries in the Turkana Basin provide clues about human ancestors. This region is known as a cradle of human life.

The Birth of Technology: Inside the Stone

The Birth of Technology: Inside the Stone

An archeology team in Kenya is piecing together clues to find the earliest signs of technology left here over 2 million years ago.

Hunting for Fossils: A Student in Kenya

Hunting for Fossils: A Student in Kenya

Learn about Dr. Lewis' experience as a student in Lake Turkana. His work focused on trying to understand early hominid behavior through the fossil record.

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Exploring the Past and Forging the Future

Base Camp

Base Camp

Learn about the research institution supporting scientific projects in the Turkana Basin, Kenya.

Case Study: Koobi Fora Research Project

Case Study: Koobi Fora Research Project

Understanding human origins and the context of evolution.

Wind Power Project

Wind Power Project

Read about how Lake Turkana's wind power will be used to create electricity for Kenya.

Case Study: Friends of Turkana

Case Study: Friends of Turkana

Working to stop construction of Ethiopia’s Gilgel Gibe III Dam.


Discovering and Dating Fossils

Dating Fossils in the Rocks

Dating Fossils in the Rocks

Explore how rocks, fossils, and other findings are investigated in the Turkana Basin, Kenya.


Great Rift Valley

Africa and the Great Lakes Region

Africa and the Great Lakes Region

Explore the physical and human geography of Africa's Great Rift Valley.


Virtual Exploration

Hominin History

Hominin History

Fossilized remains, many dating back millions of years, of extinct hominin species have been found in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

African Fossils

African Fossils

Explore the collection of fossils housed in the National Museums of Kenya.


Making the Film