Chad, Cradle of Humanity ?

With Australopithecus bahrelghazali (Abel) and Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Toumaï), two hominids fossils, Chad is a potential Cradle of Humanity

Saharan scientific missions

More Details in the French Version : Tchad berceau de l'humanité ?
see also : Meteorite Impacts in the Borkou and Ennedi (Chad)

6 Tous les sites

Map : Progressive knowledge of Toros Menalla's fossil area before to find Toumaï in TM 266. (Map Alain Beauvilain).

All the maps of the Toros Menalla's fossil area


Mission n° 1 : January 9 - 16, 1994. Using of four cars (PIRCAOC, DRGM, projet CAMPUS 'les aléas climatiques au Tchad', Spazzi di Aventura). Discovered sites of KT 1 to KT 11 (KT for Koro Toro).

1995 03 24 KT 12 abel site

KT 12 and Australopithecus bahrelghazali (Abel) the January 21, 1995 at 8 h 45 a.m. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

1995 03 36 KT12 Abel marteau site

Australopithecus bahrelghazali (Abel) the January 21, 1995 at 8 h 45 a.m
Photography Alain Beauvilain.

Abel was found lying on the surface at the foot of the old Megachad barrier beach. The symphysis was exposed and the teeth were in the thin layer of deposits left by pluvial erosion on a substrate of white sandstone.

Mission n° 2 : January 8- 27, 1995. Using of two cars (PIRCAOC and DRGM. Discovered sites of Ya 1 to Ya 4 (Ya pour Yayo), ED1 to ED3, Ang1, Ka0 and Ka 1, KT12 and KT13, discovery of the mandible of Abel on the site of KT 12 by Mamelbaye Tomalta.

Mission n° 3 : Geological mission, March 5 - 19, 1995. Using of two cars (DRGM)
Objective : to prove the impact of a meteorite at Ngweni-Fada and search fossilerous aeras. Discovery of the fossiliferous area of Kollé (KL).

Think about :

In light of the documents on this page, what allows Ann Gibbons to write in ‘The First Human. The race to discover our earliest ancestors’ (Doubleday, 2006, 307 p.) :
'His adventures in the field were legendary ... threatened at gunpoint in Chad', 'Year after year, he left his lab at the University of return to the field, even scouting new sites in the Djurab desert in a rented four-wheel-drive car with barely enough water to brush his teeth' (p. 5), ... 'Conditions where daunting, even by Brunet's standard. In some years, windtorms buried their tents, trapping them inside for several days, where they survived on pasta and tuna, rice and sardines. When they finally were able to venture outside...' (p. 9) or Michael Lemonick and Andrea Dorfman in Time, July 22, 2002 Vol. 160 No. 4: : ‘Rusting pieces of battle tanks are scattered all about, left overs from 30 years of civil unrest. Windstorms blow up frequently, sandblasting everything in sight—including the scientists, who have to seek refuge inside their tents for days at a time’.

1996 02 17 transall site - Version 2

1996 02 23 parachutes site

1996 02 13 de?chargement

1996 02 15 camp KT12 helico site

Mission n° 4 : January 07 - 30, 1996. Large camp installed on the sites of KT by French Army. Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

1996 02 35 KT 13 site site

KT 13 Kasser GP

Discovery of a half-jawbone (KT 13) by Mahamat Kasser and discovery of a higher premolar (KT 12) of Australopithecus by Alain Beauvilain. (Photographs Alain Beauvilain).

Mission n° 5 : February 06 - 24, 1996. Large camp installed on the sites of KT. Discovery of the sites of KT 14 to KT 35, KB 1 to KB 3 (KB pour Kossom Bougoudi) and KL 1 to KL 16 during missions 4 and 5.

KT 12 janvier 1996

The site of Koro Toro 12 in January 1996, sieving place of Abel's discovery saw helicoptere.

This aerial view of KT 12 shows the pluvial and aeolian deposits in which Abel was found.

Mission n° 6 : March 20 - 27, 1996. Paleontological recognition of the final part of the valley of Bahr el Ghazal.

KB 1998 pack

KB 1997 pack eau

Installation Kossom Bougoudi (KB) camp in early January 1997, setting up water pack
Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

1997 02 19 transall kouba site

1997 03 26 Djourabel decol site - Version 2

Left. The return of the detachment having set up camp.
Right. Salal off for the ULM (Djourabel) project. Delivery on the site took four days and required multiple steps. Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

Mission n° 7 : January 10 -31, 1997. Large camp installed by French Army on the sites of KB.
A recognition by Brunet Michel, Jean Sudre, Alain Beauvilain, Likius Andossa and Mahamat Oumar discovers the part of the west of Bahr el Ghazal on more than 130 kilometers and the sites TM1 to TM12 (TM for Toros Ménalla). (using of two cars and two guides, a custums employee and a shopkeeper in Kouba Olanga)

Mission n° 8 : January 25 - February 15, 1997. Large camp installed on the sites of KB.

KB mars 1997

1997 04 04 camp KB ensable site

The KB camp at the end of February 1997 after the sandstorm.
Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

Mission n° 9 : from the 8 to February 28, 1997. Large camp installed on the sites of KB.
Discovery of the sites of KB 4 to KB 27 during missions 7 - 9.

Mission n° 10 : Geological mission, March 08 - 28, 1997. Dating of the ignimbrites of Emi Koussi whose projections are likely to be inserted in the sedimentary grounds of Djurab.

Mission n° 11 : November 11 - 27, 1997. Recognition of the area ranging between Bahr el Ghazal and the border of Niger and discovery of the sites of E 1 to E 4, TM 13 to TM 48 and, on the return, of KT 36 to KT 38.

KB 1998 decharge camion 1

KB decharge camion 2

KB, installation of the camp on January 11, 1998 (photographs Alain Beauvilain).

KL 1998 camp 2

Sites of Kossom Bougoudi (KB) and the camp, January 1998 Photography Alain Beauvilain.

KB 1998 demontage 2

Kossom Bougoudi, dismantling the camp on March 11, 1998 (photography Alain Beauvilain).

KB 1998 site principal 1

KB 1998 site principal

Site of Kossom Bougoudi, the main site on March 10, 1998 (photographs Alain Beauvilain).

KL camp 1998

Little camp in Kollé (KL) january-march 1998 (photography Alain Beauvilain).

Mission n° 12 : January 10 - 28, 1998. Camps installed on the sites of KB and KL
A recognition by Alain Beauvilain, Franck Guy, Mahamat Oumar and Moussa Salé of the west of Bahr el Ghazal from the 17 to 20 January discovers the sites of TM 49 to TM 55.

KL 1998 dents eleph

Mission n° 13 : January 28 - February 18, 1998. Camps installed on the sites of KB and KL. A recognition by Alain Beauvilain, Franck Guy, Mahamat Oumar and Moussa Salé of the west of Bahr el Ghazal from the 6 to 10 February discovers the sites of TM 56 to TM 68.

Mission n° 14 : February 18 - March 11, 1998. Camps installed on the sites of KB and KL.
Short recognitions by Alain Beauvilain and Mahamat Oumar discovers the sites of KL 18 and Ka 2 and 3, another by Alain Beauvilain and Mathieu Shuster discovers KL 17.
Discovery of the sites of KT 39, KL 18 to 20, KB 28 to 31 during the missions 12, 13 and 14.

KL 98 Fanone eleph

KL 98 eleph mahamat

KL eleph mackaye

fossiles muse?e

February 06, 1998. On the site of KL 6, Fanoné Gongdibé discovers the defense of proboscidien ("cousin" of the elephant) ; then Mahamat Oumar collects it for transportation to the National Museum of N'Djamena.
February 18th, 1999. On the site of KL 5, Hassan Taïsso Mackaye measures the femur of a proboscidian before it is plastered to be transported towards the National Museum of N'Djamena
Photographs Alain Beauvilain

KL 1998 tamisage

Djimdoumalbaye Ahounta, Moustapha Seïd, Mahamat Oumar and Moustapha Djarab with sieving on the site of KT 12, february 25, 1998, during a trip of one day from KB. Very violent and quasi permanent winds make very painful work. Photography Alain Beauvilain.


Mission n° 15 : from the 10 to April 25, 1998. 7.500 m2 are sweeped, sieved and marked out on the site of KT 13.
For the collecting of the large parts, it is necessary to go to research the small ones. Squaring, sweeping and sifting of the sites will have to be carried out gradually. Kaffou Way Warou, Moustapha Djarab and Djimdoumalbaye Ahounta (of right-hand side on the left) with work on April 20th, 1998, on the site of KT 13, by temperatures reaching the 60° C on the level of the ground - measurement at the climatological station of Faya. Photography Alain Beauvilain.


On the site of KT 13, sweeping and sieving in the late afternoon to avoid the heat.
Photography Alain Beauvilain.

KT 12 tamis 1998

Sweeping and sifting at KT 12 on October 30th, 1998. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

The field surveys during April and October-November 1998 were intended to carry on the systematic sweeping and sifting operations carried out in previous years on specific but randomly selected surfaces near the discovery site of Australopithecus. At KT 12, in order to avoid rescreening old dumps, the sediments were transported over a kilometer to the west in the direction of the prevailing wind, the harmattan. How could it then be possible to date the sedimentary deposits in which Abel was found using beryllium 10?

KL 1999 montage camp

January, 1999. Camp installed on the sites of KL by French Army.
Photography Alain Beauvilain.

Mission n° 17 : January 06 - 31, 1999. Camp installed on the sites of KL by French Army.

Mission n° 18 : February 06 - March 01, 1999. Camp installed on the sites of KL. Discovery of the sites of KL 21 to KL 28. February 11 - 19, a recognition by Patrick Vignaud, Alain Beauvilain, Mathieu Shuster, Mackaye Hassan Taïsso, Mahamat Adoum and Mahamat Oumar, crosses the area located at the west of Bahr el Ghazal and discovers the sites of M 69 to M 97 and TM 99.

KL 1999 site micro

Kollé's sites. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

KL 98 chenal

KL : Searching for microfossils (including rodent teeth) at a site in KL consisting of clay which accumulated in a former channel. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

Mission n° 19 : January 03 - 25, 2000. Mission to Angamma. Discovery of the sites of ANG 2 to 15, ED 1 to 10, YA 5 and YA 6.

Angamma Tchadiens

a) Fanoné Gongdibé, Mackaye Hassan Taïsso and Likius Andossa (of right on the left), January 16, 2000, studying the layer of ignimbrite which, on a few square kilometres, is included between the old sandstones and more recent clay cliff at Angamma. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

Angamma pour site ignim 1

Angamma pour site ignim 2



In a small area, the base of the clayey-sandstone cliff at Angamma, the former shore of Lake Megachad, lies on ignimbrites dated at about 6 million years. The sample was taken in the youngest pale layer. Whereas its top, when overlain by the more recent deposits, seems perfectly level (photo a), its base, when it is visible, overlies an oxidized layer of ignimbrites which seems to have been subjected to wind erosion resulting in a type of patterned yardang, as happens today (photo c).

Mission n° 20 : February 05 - 22, 2000. Discovered sites of TM 98, TM 100 with TM 117.

Mission n° 21 : July 14 - 19, 2000. Discovered sites of KT 39 and KT 40. Discovery of a mandible of hominid on the site of KT 40 by Fanoné Gongdibé.

KT 40 tamisage

July 18, 2000, Fanoné Gongdibé, Mahamat Adoum and Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye
sieve the site of KT 40. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

Mission n° 22 : October 27 - November 10, 2000. Object : sedimentological researches of the whole fossiliferous zones. Discoverery of the sites of TM 118 to TM 125.


November 2000, au plus bas de la cuvette tchadienne. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

Mission n° 23 : November 19 - December 06, 2000. Object : to inventory in detail the site of KT 40 and to allow Professor Brunet Michel to travel the whole area of Toro - Menala which he had not crossed since the first twelve sites discovered in January 1997. Discovery of the sites of TM 126 to TM 165.

Mission n° 24 : January 11 - 29, 2001. Discovery of the sites of TM 166 to TM 192.

Mission n° 25 : February 5 - 22, 2001. Discovery of the sites of TM 193 to TM 229.

Mission n° 26 : July 9 - 23, 2001. Discovery of the sites of TM 230 to TM267. Discovery on July 19 of the sub-complete head of Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Toumaï), on the particularly old grounds of TM 266 and a fragment of mandible belonging to the same species on the site of TM247.

groupe avec Toumai

July 19, 2001. Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye, Mahamat Adoum, Alain Beauvilain and Fanoné Gongdibé on the site of TM 266 with cranium of Toumaï. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

TM 254 site 3

TM 254, 16 July 2001, the site and an Libycosaurus bahri male (Anthracotheriidae) on this site. Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

TM 254 Libycosaurus diaporama


The Toumai's discovery area in the afternoon of July 19, 2001. Photography Alain Beauvilain.

TM 266 dunes diaporama

Above, south of TM 266's site, the 23 October 2001.
Below, TM 266's site the 23 October 2001
. In the center, the Toumai's discovery area. Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

TM 266 ensemble depuis dune W 2

Mission n° 27 : October 21 - November 04, 2001. Discovery of the sites of TM 268 to TM 300. A upper canine of Toumaï is discovered at TM266 by sorting of the sediments resulting from sweeping of the place where Toumai was discovered.

Mission n° 28 : December 03 - 19, 2001. Discovered sites of TM 301 to TM337. A upper incisor of Sahelanthropus tchadensis is discovered at N'Djamena at the time of the sorting of the brought back sediments of TM266.

Mission n° 29 : January 13 - 27, 2002. Discovered sites of TM 338 to TM 360. Discovery of three fossils of Sahelanthropus tchadensis (January 15,16 and 17th, a sub-complete mandible on the site of TM 292, and on January 20th of a right half-mandible and an m/3 left on the site of TM 266).

TM 292 Fanone? de?couvre 96pts

TM 292 balayage

January 16, 2002. Fanoné Gongdibé discovers the second fragment of a mandible of Sahelanthropus tchadensis at TM 292 (photography Alain Beauvilain). Like all other fossils of Sahelanthropus, the mandible of TM 292 was collected from the loose aeolian sand which lies above the indurated sandstone layer. Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

January 17, 2002. Sieving of TM 292's site. Mahamat Adoum finds third fragment of Sahelanthropus tchadensis. The first was found January 15, 2002 by Alain Beauvilain. Photographs Alain Beauvilain.

TM 292 balayage site

TM292 mandibule

Mission n° 30 : March 05 - 16, 2002. Discovery of the sites of TM361 to TM374. Discovery of a new fossil of Sahelanthropus tchadensis (end of mandible, left premolar with the right canine) at TM 266.