Human Evolution

The origin of early hominins in Africa and their expansion to Eurasia was significantly influenced by their adaptive-functional properties, as well as climate and habitat changes and their ability for cultural behavior. Key regions of our research projects are Central Africa and Southeast Asia. Our research station in Malawi, the GHR v. Koenigswald hominid collection and our 3D-morphometry facilities offer excellent conditions for interdisciplinary research on the origin and early evolution of the genus Homo, with both field and laboratory work.

Close collaborative relationships exist with the research project “The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans (ROCEEH), the LOEWE Research Bodiversität and Climate (SBiK-F), the Research Unit RiftLink (DFG FOR703) and the Human Palaeobiomics Project (collaboration with NYU). An important aspect is academic teaching (including the international master program Prehistory & Quaternary) and Capacity Building. African partner institutions include Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Cotonou and Quagadougou.

Cooperation Projects

Museum X3

This project aims at linking three museums, the Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga (Malawi), the Georgian National Museum in Tiflis (Georgia), and the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Frankfurt/Main (Germany) via video conferencing systems. This will allow a direct exchange between museum visitors in the three countries, in order to contribute to the equality of experience and knowledge, to internationalize the social debate within museums, to promote realistic and differentiated perceptions of the three societies and to inspire and encourage intercultural and global learning.


Hominid Corridor Research Project in Nord-Malawi

  • Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology northern Malawi
  • Origin and development of the genus Homo
  • Impact of climatic and environmental variability on faunal composition and distribution of molluscan and mammalian faunas and early hominids in Eastern Africa

Research Station Malawi

In northern Malawi, the Cultural and Museum Centre Karonga was constructed with financial support by European Union. The CMCK helps to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of Malawi. Through a GIZ project inventories of the cultural heritage of Malawi were developed and concepts for the sustainability of the project were implemented. Measures for sensitization and awareness were carried out at local and national level and in the field of extracurricular learning.     

The essential starting point for planning and construction of the Cultural and Museum Centre Karonga was the rich natural heritage of northern Malawi (Therapsids / Karroo, Dinosaurs / Cretaceous, Hominins / Plio-Pleistocene). The Hominid Corridor Research project through paleoanthropological research in Karonga district contributed to a major change in the perception of the natural heritage of Malawi. The CMCK is also used as a research station for paleontological field work in northern Malawi. For field work, a site camp exists directly at the excavation site Malema, which was built with funds from the GIZ, and also functions as  an on site information center.