One Giant Step For Mankind

The region of Ethiopia called the Middle Awash, some 140 miles northeast of the capital of Addis Ababa, is a hot, harsh and inhospitable place–a rocky desert punctuated by tree-lined rivers, the occasional lake and patches of lava that are slowly being buried by sediments flushed out of the hills by the torrential rains that come along twice a year. But between 5 million and 6 million years ago, the landscape here was very different.