31.10.2013 - Africa Department

Donation of the skull mould of Toumaï to UNESCO by the President of the Republic of Chad, the oldest hominid to this day, dated from about 7 million years ago

On Monday the 11th of November, during the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, Director General Irina Bokova will receive from His Excellency Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad, a moulding of the skull of Toumaï, the oldest hominid to this day, dated from about 7 million years ago.

The moulding will be placed on a carved stele stone from the Vézère “Man valley” in Dordogne, symbolising immuability, reminding of the origins of humanity, and underlining the importance of preserving world heritage. This event is thus of great symbolic and historical importance for UNESCO and its partners. This moulding will also trigger pedagogical interest, transmitting new elements for paleoanthropological theories regarding the origins of Man, and offering a contribution to the General History of Africa and of humanity.

UNESCO is honoured by the Republic of Chad’s contribution to common efforts towards preserving the world heritage of humanity. This gesture will contribute to the on-going good cooperation between the Organisation and the Republic of Chad, which started since it became member to UNESCO in 1960.

In addition to this event, the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Chad is organising an exhibition of paleoanthropological fossils. The latter will be preceded, the 6th and 7th of November, by a scientific symposium about the discovery of the cranium and its historical contributions, in collaboration with the Culture Sector. This symposium will gather about fifteen international experts who will discuss the current state of paleoanthropoological research, and will lay the foundations for a greater event which will take place in 2014 in N’Djamena in Chad, within the context of preparing the 9th volume of the General History of Africa.

Furthermore, it is planned that His Excellency Mr. Idriss Deby intervenes during the General Conference of UNESCO.

The discovery of Toumaï’s  skull took place on July 19th 2001 when Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye, one of the members of the french-chadian paleoanthropological mission – presided by French palaeontologist Michel Brunet, here assisted by Alain Beauvilain –, discovers the skull of a hominid who lived about 7 million years ago, during the superior Miocene, which makes him the oldest hominid ever discovered. Scientifically, he is of a new one-of-a-kind species: the Sahelanthropus chadensis.

Toumaï, the vernacular name, was proposed by the highest Chadian authorities. In Goran language, it means “hoped to live”, name given to infants being born right before the drought season in the desert.

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