The Valley of Bones

[A quick note to say that I’ve recently been writing posts for the geology/education blog The Earth Story and I’m going to start cross-posting some of those pieces here, in expanded form. TES can be found on Facebook at, on Tumblr at, and Twitter as @TheEarthStory. The original for the following post can be found at:]


West of the volcanic slopes of Ngorongoro Crater, which was covered in another post not long ago, there is a deep cut across the landscape that interrupts the wide Serengeti Plains in northern Tanzania. A dry, winding ravine exposes layers of lava and ash, and within them, the traces of early human evolution. Named for a European misunderstanding of the Maasai word for wild sisal flowers, oldupai, Olduvai Gorge has a rich history of paleoanthropological finds, grueling excavations, and intriguing characters. Continue reading “The Valley of Bones”


Field Notes: Ethiopia 2.0


Rough-backed mountains with strange straight-sided peaks and pinnacles of rock recede into the misty distance, and the umbilical thread of what will be the world’s longest river spills out of a round-bellied lake. Nestled invisibly within the landscape are castles, monasteries with secret treasures, and Christian churches cut from ancient stone, though the most prominent Highland scenes usually involve sheep and cows ranging over the rocky slopes. These are the Ethiopian Highlands, not the Scottish, however, and in November blue skies and balmy temperatures reign. Continue reading “Field Notes: Ethiopia 2.0”