Geologists Correct a Rift in Africa
The Great Rift Valley of East Africa – the birthplace of the human species – may have taken much longer to develop than previously believed. Scientists now believe the western portion of the rift is approximately as old as the eastern part – about 25 million years old. Previous studies have repeatedly suggested the Eastern branch is much older.
“The significance is that the Rift Valley is the setting for the most crucial steps in primate and ultimately human evolution, and our study has major implications for the environmental and landscape changes that form the backdrop for that evolutionary story,” said Michael Gottfried, Michigan State University associate professor of geological sciences and part of an international team that suggested the findings have important implications for understanding climate change models, animal evolution and the development of Africa’s unique landscape.