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Man and Environments in Morocco during Quaternary

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A Moroccan view on hominid evolution

An EU-Moroccan team is studying environmental effects on hominid evolution in North Africa over the last million years. Now, all aspects of such research are united in one team, which also facilitates local training and knowledge transfer.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Morocco is a suitable place for studying the chronology and the climatic and other environmental effects on human evolution during the Quaternary Period and especially since the last 130 000 years. Funded by the EU, the project 'Man and environments in Morocco during Quaternary' (MEMOQUAT) aims to establish partnerships between EU and Moroccan institutions, enabling the study of hominid evolution. The goal is to unite for the first time the separate stages of such a study — archaeological digging, dating and publication — under one organisation. Two European partners are working with a Moroccan university. The project also aims to establish long-term collaboration involving local training and knowledge transfer elements. The four-year initiative concludes in March 2015. Prehistorical sites at Rabat-Temara, on Morocco's Atlantic coast, were chosen for a three-phase study of chronology, geology and human evolution. The first has been achieved using new radiometric data concerning stratigraphy and hominid bearing levels. Research to date also helped develop a methodology that will obtain data from geological environment of prehistoric sites. In addition, team members have studied several travertine formations, the results of which were presented at a 2011 conference. One 12-metre core yielded ages from 1 million to 20 000 years, including a remarkable feature at 0.78 million years including palaeomagnetic data. Other members contributed to the study of technological variability in the Tafilalt and Draa valley area. Laboratory-based dating results showed excellent accuracy and repeatability. Pigments found in sediments were studied to determine the geological sources of the raw materials. The project established a regular conference series at Meknes University. French and Italian partner members presented results to Moroccan students, as enticement to join the programme. Two participant students defended their PhDs. MEMOQUAT is revealing information about human evolution in North Africa, while also establishing research ties to a Moroccan university.


Hominid, hominid evolution, environmental effects, knowledge transfer, human evolution, Quaternary Period, chronology, geology, radiometric data, stratigraphy, travertine formations

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