Craig Feibel holds a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Utah, awarded in 1988. With interests in the environmental context of human evolution, he has conducted research throughout East Africa and in the Middle East. His primary research area is the Turkana Basin of Kenya and Ethiopia, with a rich record of biotic and cultural evolution spanning more than eight million years. He has worked to document the temporal and environmental framework for the magnificent fossil and archaeological finds made here by Richard Leakey and others. A second major focus of his research has been the Dead Sea Rift in Israel, where the Levantine Corridor provided an important route for the emigration of new species and cultural traditions leaving Africa for Eurasia. The site of Gesher Benot Ya’aqov there preserves a unique environmental record of hominin life on the margins of an ancient lake. Dr. Feibel’s current field research includes work with a French archaeological team in northern Kenya investigating early hominin culture, along with an international drilling project working to recover continuous core records of environmental change through the same interval. His laboratory is currently involved in the dating of volcanic ash, the ecology of fossil ostracods, molluscs and fishes, and the climatic records preserved in ancient soils.
Current Research Project: Environmental Dynamics and Human Evolution
My research centers on field and laboratory investigation of environmental dynamics and evolution in the Neogene. It approaches the problem through multiple time frames and geographic foci. Currently there are three active windows in this research: the period between 2.5 and 1.5 Ma in the Turkana Basin of Kenya, the interval around 780 Ka in the Dead Sea Rift of Israel, and a little more than 4 Ma at the site of Kanapoi in Kenya.
Field work planned for the Turkana Basin will approach the problem of environmental character and change with two parallel studies: a strictly geological project aimed at collection a continuous core record of this interval, and a geoarchaeological approach targeting early sites and their distribution across the ancient landscape. Both aspects involve field collection of data and samples, which will be followed up with laboratory investigations. The lab component includes the geochemical characterization and dating of volcanic ash (employing the new JEOL microprobe and mass-spectrometry labs in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences), along with geochemical and isotopic analyses of fossil faunas and ancient soils.
The Israel work, focused on the site of Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, is in the final stages of laboratory characterization and stratigraphic analysis, and is being compiled into a book on geology and environmental dynamics of that locality.
Work at Kanapoi is continuing with both field and laboratory studies aimed at further detailing the environmental and taphonomic context of the important Australopithecus anamensis fossils and associated faunas.
Van Bocxlaer, B., Van Damme, D. and Feibel, C. S. 2008. Gradual versus punctuated equilibrium evolution in the Turkana Basin molluscs: Evolutionary events or biological invasions? Evolution 62: 511-520.
Quinn, R. L., Lepre, C. J., Wright, J. D. and Feibel, C. S. 2007. Tectonic and climatic controls on the paleogeographic distribution of isotopic ratios (d13C, d18O) from pedogenic carbonates in Plio-Pleistocene hominin habitats at Koobi Fora, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 53: 560-573.
Lepre, C. J., Quinn, R. L., Joordens, J. J., Swisher, C. C., and Feibel, C. S. 2007. Plio-Pleistocene facies environments from the KBS Member, Koobi Fora Formation: implications or climate controls on the development of lake-margin hominin habitats in the northeast Turkana Basin (northwest Kenya). Journal of Human Evolution 53: 504-514.
Roche, H., Brugal, J. -P., Delagnes, A., Feibel, C., Harmand, S., Kibunjia, M., Prat, S. and Texier, P. -J. 2004. Plio-Pleistocene archaeological sites in the Nachukui Formation, West Turkana, Kenya: synthetic results 1997-2001. Comptes Rendus Palevol 2: 663-673.
Feibel, C. S. 2003b. Stratigraphy and depositional setting of the Pliocene Kanapoi Formation, lower Kerio Valley, Kenya. Contributions in Science 498: 9-20.
Feibel, C. S. 2003.a Stratigraphy and depositional history of the Lothagam sequence. In: Leakey, M. G. and Harris, J. M. (eds.) Lothagam: The Dawn of Humanity in Eastern Africa. Columbia University Press, New York. pp. 17-29.
Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel
Feibel, C. S. 2005. Quaternary lake margins of the Levant Rift Valley. In: Speth, J. D. and Goren-Inbar, N. (eds.) Paleoecology of the Levantine Corridor. Oxbow Books, Oxford. pp. 21-36.
Rosenfeld, A., Nathan, Y., Feibel, C. S., Shilman, B., Halicz, L., Goren-Inbar, N. and Siman-Tov, R. 2004. Paleoenvironment of the Acheulian Gesher Benot Ya’aqov Pleistocene lacustrine strata, northern Israel – lithology, ostracod assemblages and ostracod shell geochemistry. Journal of African Earth Sciences 38: 169-181.
Sharon, G., Feibel, C. S., Belitzky, S., Marder, O., Khalaily, H. and Rabinovitch, R. 2002. 1999 Jordan River drainage project damages Gesher Benot Ya’aqov: A preliminary study of the archaeological and geological implications. In: Gal, Z. (ed.) Eretz Zafon: Studies in Galilean Archaeology. Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem. pp. 1-19.
Goren-Inbar, N., Werker, E. and Feibel, C. S. 2002. The Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov: The wood assemblage. Oxbow Press, Oxford. 121 pp.
Goren-Inbar, N., Feibel,C. S., Verosub, K. L., Melamed, Y., Kislev, M. E., Tchernov, E. and Saragusti, I. 2000. Pleistocene milestones on the Out-of-Africa corridor at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel. Science 289: 944-947.