Cleghorn Adds NSF Grant to Ongoing Project

This summer, Assistant Professor Naomi Cleghorn (Anthropology) received a $26,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue her work researching early humans along the coast of South Africa.

Cleghorn’s project, “Long Term Human Response to Sea Level Change,” ramped up in July as she and her team spent six weeks at a site near Knysna, South Africa, on the southern coast of the continent. Funding for this stage of the research project included a $25,000 grant from the Leakey Foundation.

Cleghorn believes the Knysna site dates to a rarely represented time period – between 44,000 and 18,000 years ago – and holds never-before-seen evidence of early human evolution.

“There has been a lot of work on sites dating from 120,000 to 50,000 years ago and plenty of research done at sites younger than 18,000 years ago,” she said in a January article, “but there are few sites in between those time periods. The population in that region leading up to this time was one of the largest on Earth compared to other groups around the globe. But there’s a drop off in sites dating between 44,000-18,000 years ago, and this needs explanation.”

Cleghorn’s team included researchers from South Africa, Brazil, Australia and Canada as well as UTA graduate students Erin Nichols and Christopher Shelton, former Maverick alumnus Daniel Pert, and a student from University of Washington.

For the past four years Cleghorn has been working with anthropologist Curtis Marean (Arizona State University) at other sites in South Africa. Analysis of the findings from the Knysna site, Cleghorn said, will also be supported by a grant through ASU’s Institute for Human Origins.

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