The Chad Basin
Until recently, Chad has remained a poorly known country as far as paleontological research, compared to its neighbors on the African continent. But since 1994, the Mission Paléoanthropologique Franco-Chadienne (MPFT) is conducting intensive geological and paleontological surveys in the Djurab desert. More than 400 Mio-Pliocene fossil sites dated between ca 3 and 7 Ma have been identified. These sites have yielded rich and diverse fossil faunal assemblages of vertebrates, unique in Central Africa. They include the remains of early hominins: Abel (Australopithecus bahrelghazali, ca 3.5 Ma), the first Australopithecus, discovered west of the Rift Valley (Brunet et al., 1995 & 1996), and Toumaï (Sahelanthropus tchadensis, ca.7 Ma), the earliest known hominin (Brunet et al.,2002 & 2005). These discoveries, exceptional in their geographical position and their dates, substitute the old scenarios explaining the emergence of the human Family through environmental changes in East Africa (Coppens, 1983).