Because I am interested in the growth and development of early hominids, I play with my kids, you know, looking at their teeth or measuring their heads, which they like also, because it’s kind of fun.
I learned that the first technology appeared in the form of stone tools, 2.6 million years ago. First entertainment comes evidence from flutes that are 35,000 years old. And evidence for first design comes 75,000 years old – beads. And you can do the same with your genes and track them back in time.
I’m a paleoanthropologist, and my job is to define man’s place in nature and explore what makes us human.
At age three, if you have a still-growing brain, it’s a human behavior. In chimps, by age three, the brain is formed over 90 percent. That’s why they can cope with their environment very easily after birth – faster than us, anyway. But in humans, we continue to grow our brains. That’s why we need care from our parents.
Selam is our most complete skeleton of a three-year-old girl who lived and died 3.3 million years ago. She belongs to the species known as Australopithecus afarensis.
I went to start the first Ethiopian-led project in paleoanthropology, ever. Doing that was not easy.
I was going to France to do my masters and my Ph.D., but I didn’t know how to say, ‘bonjour.’ You really feel like a baby, starting everything from scratch.
My family, in a way, gives me a reference as to who I am as an individual, and my work gives me a reference as to who I am as a Homo sapiens. I think that’s a very perfect match, in my view.