East Turkana - Buluk
East Turkana is well-known for its wealth of Pliocene and Pleistocene fauna. However, the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya is also an important area for early Miocene remains. The basin of East Turkana is important because the remains recovered from lake sediments include Plio-Pleistocene hominins as well as the Miocene hominoids and cercopithecoids, a family of primates.
Buluk is located on the eastern side of the Turkana Basin and represents a unique assemblage of fossils from this time period. After its discovery in the early 20th century, the site was resurveyed in the 1980’s revealing numerous fossil remains. Work at that time and by subsequent researchers has shown Buluk to preserve one of the very few early Miocene primate communities characterized by both early apes and monkeys.
The Buluk site is approximately 17 Ma. Its deposits are mainly composed of small claystones, and coarse sandstones as well as conglomerate channel fills. Buluk represents the easternmost fossil mammal assemblage from this time period and preserves a diversity of species including the fossil apes and the monkey. Furthermore, unlike the wooded-forested habitats of the western Kenyan fossil apes, Buluk seems to represent a drier woodland environment, thereby furthering our understanding of early ape habitat diversity.
• Brown, Francis H. and Ian McDougall. “Geochronology of the Turkana Depression of Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia.” Evolutionary Anthropology 20 (2011): 217–227.
• Leakey, Meave, Ari Grossman, Mercedes Gutie’rrez, and John G. Fleagle. “Faunal Change in the Turkana Basin During the Late Oligocene and Miocene.” Evolutionary Anthropology 20 (2001): 238–253.