September 8 2021 13h: international seminar n° 24


Laurent Bruxelles
TRACES, UMR 5608 du CNRS, Inrap & GAES, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa


Of australopiths and men. Contribution of southern African fossiliferous karsts to our knowledge on the origin of genus Homo

Despite the many fossils documenting the humankind lineage, the location of the cradle(s) of genus Homo remains unclear. Our recent works in caves of South Africa reveal the contemporaneity between South-African fossils and those, better known, of the eastern African Great Rift. It is therefore necessary to revise the notion of “Craddle of Humankind.” Should we seek a precise place where our genus, Homo, appeared? Or should we think that human evolution is the result of several cradles? What if we should instead consider Africa, the known sites being only fragments of the cradle, elements of a commun history at a whole continental scale? For several years, our research in various countries of Southern Africa aims at answering this question.

Laurent Bruxelles is geomorphologist and karstologist. He was hired by Inrap after a post-doctorate in 2002 at Polytech Mons (Belgium). Since then, he has been participating to a large number of archeological excavations in France and to research programs abroad. Since 2006, he has been involved in studying the fossiliferous caves of South Africa. The dating of the australopith Little Foot allowed reconsidering the potential of Southern Africa for such discoveries, and led him to propose several research programs in Namibia, Mozambique, and Botswana. Since 2016, he has been seconded to the CNRS and has fully dedicated his time to research, to student training, and to international collaborations.


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