Not everyone seems enamored of the institute, however. Rutgers University paleoanthropologist Jack Harris says he is content using the humbler Koobi Fora field station run by the National Museums, south of Ileret. Harris has expressed concern that the TBI might be encroaching on the government’s authority in the region.
Martin argues that the institute is not trying to control the Turkana basin—“we’re just trying to support science and support Kenya.” He acknowledges that all are welcome to come and seek excavation permits from the National Museums of Kenya. “We just think that it’s a tough area to do work, and if we have the infrastructure to help—to provide vehicles and food and well-trained staff—a lot of people will want to avail themselves of those,” he adds. By inviting all researchers in the region to an August workshop at the new Ileret field station, TBI leaders hope to allay suspicions, facilitate working together and radically increase our understanding of human evolution.
This article was originally published with the title Finding Fossils Faster.