Franco-Chadian Paleoanthropological Mission

Hominies from Chad and their environments from 7 Ma to 3 Ma

Principal investigators

Type of project

Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs since 1999.

Research questions

The discovery in northern Chad of the first australopith known west to the Rift Valley in 1995, then of the currently earliest known hominid Sahelanthropus (Toumaï) in 2001, modified our view of the earliest steps of the human branch. Sahelanthropus, close to the human/chimpanzee dichotomy, suggest a wider and earlier distribution of early hominids than previously thought.

Some Results

Since 1995, more than 20,000 fossil specimens were discovered, studied, and inventoried – they are now preserved at the Centre National de Recherche pour le Développement in Ndjamena. They come from more than 500 fossiliferous localities in northern Chad, dated to between 7 Ma and 3 Ma.

More than 130 articles were published on Chadian hominids and on their environmental context in international scientific journals, including five in Nature, three in Science, and six in PNAS.

Nineteen PhD theses were defended in the framework of this project, including four by Chadian colleagues.


More than 60 scientists from 14 countries are associated to this research program led by PALEVOPRIM (University of Poitiers, CNRS), the Collège de France, the University of Ndjamena and the CNRD. A very strong partnership was established with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Iconic publications

BRUNET M. et al., (2002) – A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Nature, 418 : 145-151.

BRUNET M., GUY F., PILBEAM D., LIEBERMAN D.E., LIKIUS A., MACKAYE H.T., PONCE DE LEON M., ZOLLIKOFER P.E. & VIGNAUD P. (2005) – New material of the earliest hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad. Nature, 434 : 752-755.

GUY F., LIEBERMAN D. E., PILBEAM D., PONCE DE LEON M., LIKIUS A., MACKAYE H. T., VIGNAUD P. ZOLLIKOFER C. & BRUNET M. (2005) – Morphological affinities of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Late Miocene Hominid, Chad) cranium. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 102 : 18836-18841.

VIGNAUD P. et al. (2002) – Geology and palaeontology of the Upper Miocene Toros-Menalla hominid locality, Chad. Nature, 418 : 152-155.

ZOLLIKOFER C.P.E., PONCE DE LEÓN M.S., LIEBERMAN D.E., GUY F., PILBEAM D., LIKIUS A., MACKAYE H.T., VIGNAUD P. & BRUNET M. (2005) – Virtual cranial reconstruction of Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Nature, 434 : 755-759.



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Guylaine REYNAUD

Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 26

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Université de Poitiers – UFR SFA


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