French-Chadian Paleoanthropological Mission (MPFT)

Lake Chad Basin ( Bodele Depression, Djourab Desert) & Angamma Plateau (northern Chad)

A unique window in central Africa on the evolutionary history
of the human family that help us writing the oldest known chapter of our History

Principal investigator

Co-principal investigator

Research question

The goal is to document the earliest evolutionary phases of the human family, just after its split from the chimpanzee lineage. The MPFT also studies the African distribution and the local evolution of our family, including australopiths, as well as the precursors and first representatives of genus Homo.

Some results

The MPFT discovered more than 500 fossiliferous sites in the Mio-Plio-Pleistocene of Chad, as well as more than 20,000 fossil vertebrates. It unearthed the first known australopiths west to the eastern African Rift (Australopithecus bahrelghazali) and the oldest known representatives of the humankind known to date (Sahelanthropus tchadensis). It documents the regional environmental history. All these recent discoveries in central Africa led to reconsider dramatically our ideas on the emergence and the earliest phases of the history of human family.

Mission organization

The MPFT is a transdisciplinary mission (paleontology, geology, paleoenvironments) led at PALEVOPRIM and at the Collège de France in tight partnership with the University of Ndjamena and the National Center for Research and Development in Ndjamena. It is governed under a memorandum of understanding between these institutions and the University of Poitiers. The MPFT includes a hundred of scientists from ten countries.


The MPFT notably benefited from the support of:

Find out more

Iconic publications

Novello A., Lebatard A.-E., Moussa A., Barboni D., Sylvestre F., Bourlès D.L., Paillès C., Buchet G., Decarreau A., Duringer P., Ghienne J.-F., Maley J., Mazur J.C., Roquin C., Schuster M., Vignaud P., 2015. Diatom, phytolith, and pollen records from a 10Be/9Be dated lacustrine succession in the Chad basin: insight on the Miocene–Pliocene paleoenvironmental changes in central Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 430, 85–103.

Guy F., Mackaye H.T., Likius A., Vignaud P., Schmittbuhl M., Brunet M., 2008. Symphyseal shape variation in extant and fossil hominoids, and the symphysis of Australopithecus bahrelghazali. Journal of Human Evolution 55, 37–47.

Mackaye H.T., Brunet M., Tassy P., 2005. Selenetherium kolleensis nov. gen. nov. sp. : un nouveau Proboscidea (Mammalia) dans le Pliocène tchadien. Géobios 38, 765–777.

Likius A., Brunet M., Geraads D., Vignaud P., 2003. Le plus vieux Camelidae (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) d’Afrique : limite Mio-Pliocène, Tchad. Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France 174, 187–193.

Brunet M. & al, 2002. A new hominid from the upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Nature 418, 801.

Brunet M., M.P.F.T, 2000. Chad: discovery of a vertebrate fauna close to the Mio-Pliocene boundary. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20, 205–209.



Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 53

Guylaine REYNAUD

Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 26

Fax : +33.(0)5 49 45 40 17


Université de Poitiers – UFR SFA


Bât B35 – TSA 51106

6 rue Michel Brunet

86073 POITIERS Cedex 9