Jackson Njau

Jackson Njau

Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Research Associate, The Stone Age Institute

Adjunct Professor, Anthropology

Affiliate Faculty, African Studies Program, Indiana University


  • Ph.D., Rutgers University, 2006
  • M.A., Rutgers University, 2000
  • B.A., University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 1992

Research interests

My research seeks to understand the relationship between paleoecology, paleoenvironments and hominin evolution. My research combines a broad range of paleoanthropological methods including zooarchaeology, vertebrate taphonomy, paleontology, geology, and the use of ecologically driven actualistic studies of predator-prey interactions from archaeological perspectives. Over the last fifteen years my research has focused on the role of crocodylian predation on hominin evolution at Olduvai Gorge site, which is perhaps the most famous of all archaeological sites in the world informing on human evolution. Currently, I am co-directing a scientific drilling research program that investigates the continental core records of Olduvai Gorge to understand the paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental contexts of hominin evolution at high-resolution.

Research projects

Over the years I have established and collaborate in interdisciplinary research projects focusing on human evolution in Tanzania. They include;

  • Currently, I am co-directing the Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP). This project seeks to understand the role of Earth’s dynamics to hominin evolution through scientific drilling and multiproxy analyses of core record. OGCP peer reviewed special issue publications.
  • Olduvai Geochronology and Archaeology Project
  • Olduvai Vertebrate Paleontology Project (OVPP)
  • Olduvai Gorge Landscape Paleoanthropology Project (OLAPP).

Courses taught

  • EAS-E 104 Evolution of the Earth
  • COLL-X 101 Missing Links and Human Origins
  • EAS-E 227 Earth Climate and History
  • EAS-X377 Olduvai Gorge Summer Field School
  • GEOL-G490 Advanced Seminar, African landscapes paleoecology
  • GEOL-G 561 Paleoecology
  • GEOL-G 690 Advanced Seminar, Climate Change and Human Evolution in Africa

Graduate student projects

  • Silvia Ascari M.Sc. Isotopic Analyses of Fossil Bones and Teeth of Herbivores and Crocodiles from Upper Bed I-Upper Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.
  • Paul Farrugia Ph.D. Crocodylian Craniodental Ecomorphology and Ecological Niche Modeling: A New Approach for Reconstructing Hominin Paleoecology in the East African Rift System.
  • Danielle Peltier-Thompson Ph.D. Abiotic Influence on Paleoecology and its Implications on the Evolution of Hominin Morphology
  • Thomas LaBarge M.Sc.

Publications 2021

*Indicates student publication

Njau, J.K., Toth, P., Schick, K., Stanistreet, I., McHenry, L.J., Stollhofen, H. (2021) The Olduvai Gorge Coring Project: Drilling high resolution palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental archives to constrain hominin evolution. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 561. DOI.

Ferland, T.M., *Colcord, D.E., *Shilling, A.M., Brassell, S.C., Stanistreet, I.G., Stollhofen, H., Njau, J.K., Schick, K.D., Toth, N., and Freeman, K.H. (2021) Biased preservation of Pleistocene climate variability proxies at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 562. DOI

Torre, I.d.l., Benito-Calvo, A., Martín-Ramos, C., McHenry, L.J., Mora, R., Njau, J.K., Pante, M., Stanistreet, I.G., and Stollhofen, H. (2021) New excavations in the MNK Skull site, and the last appearance of the Oldowan and Homo habilis at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 61. DOI

Stollhofen, H., Stanistreet, I.G., Toth, N., Schick, K.D., Rodríguez-Cintas, A., Albert, R.M., *Farrugia, P., Njau, J.K., Pante, M.C., Herrmann, E., Ruck, L., Bamford, M.K., Blumenschine, R.J., and Masao, F.T. (2021) Olduvai's Oldest Oldowan. Journal of Human Evolution 150. DOI