Alesi: The Life, Death, and Discovery of an Ancestor

October 12, 2017

Walter Payton College Prep High School
1034 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL, USA


The recent discovery of a 13 million-year-old fossil infant ape skull has offered a rare glimpse of what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like. The fossil, nicknamed “Alesi,” belongs to a newly named species called Nyanzapithecus alesi. Alesi was discovered in a desolate region of Kenya by John Ekusi, a member of Dr. Isaiah Nengo’s research team. In this talk, Dr. Nengo will share the story of finding this rare fossil and discuss the secrets that cutting-edge technology has uncovered about the life of this ancient infant.

Alesi after attached sandstone rock was partially removed at the Turkana Basin Insitute, near Lodwar, Kenya. © Isaiah Nengo, Photo by Christopher Kiarie.

Akai Ekes and John Ekusi watch as Isaiah Nengo lifts the sandstone block with Alesi after six hours of excavation. © Isaiah Nengo.

Event Details

Thursday, October 12, 6:00 p.m., Walter Payton College Prep High School, Auditorium, 1034 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60610. This program is free and open to the public, but advanced registration recommended.

Register using the “get tickets” button below. Walter Payton College Prep, a selective enrollment high school that is part of the Chicago Public School system, is located in the Old Town neighborhood, just minutes from Michigan Avenue and downtown Chicago, and is easily accessible via public transportation.

If you can’t join us in person, join us via live stream on our Facebook page, or at your convenience on our YouTube channel, C2ST TV.

COVER IMAGE: Alesi, the skull of the new extinct ape species Nyanzapithecus alesi (KNM-NP 59050). © Fred Spoor.

For more on Isaiah Nengo and this discovery, listen to The Leaky Foundation podcast, Origin Stories.

Read the original journal article about Alesi in Nature.

Read more about the Alesi discovery in the popular press, with coverage in the Washington Post, Business Insider, and National Geographic.