Among the hominin fossils discovered and identified by the Koobi Fora Research Project is Paranthropus boisei, or "Nutcracker Man." The project has also discovered fossils of Homo rudolfensis (named for Lake Rudolf, the colonial name of Lake Turkana), Paranthropus aethiopicus, Australopithecus anamensis, and Kenyanthropus platyops.

Illustration by Peter V. Bianchi  
  • On July 17, 1959, British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered a skull from an ancient hominid species, Paranthropus boisei, or “southern ape.” The skull was the first specimen of this species, nicknamed “Nutcracker Man,” to be found. The P. boisei skull is about 1.8 million years old, and was unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, part of the Serengeti Plains of Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

    The Leakey family continues to foster distinguished fossil hunters. Forty years after Mary Leakey discovered Nutcracker Man, her daughter-in-law Maeve and granddaughter Louise helped lead a team that discovered yet another new species of ancient hominid, a 3.5 million-year-old skull and partial jaw identified as Kenyanthropus platyops.


  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    distinguish Verb

    to differentiate or recognize as different.

    fossil Noun

    remnant, impression, or trace of an ancient organism.

    Encyclopedic Entry: fossil
    foster Verb

    to promote the growth or development of something.

    hominid Noun

    biological family of primates, including humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, and their ancestors.

    skull Noun

    bones of the head, supporting the face and protecting the brain and upper spinal cord.

    specimen Noun

    individual organism that is a typical example of its classification.

    unearth Verb

    to dig up.