Exploring the construction of the Human Niche requires scholars to do inter-disciplinary work. This is a complex subject, with many facets, needing many different sources of light for illumination.

In our latest conversation, we spoke with Susana Carvalho, Associate Professor of Palaeoanthropology at Oxford University. She began her career as an archaeologist in her native Portugal, but after a revelatory encounter in the Mexican Jungle quickly moved into studying primates, and used the two disciplines to explore human evolution. Humans are technology-using animals; but the technology we use can either enhance our world our destroy it. With a particular reference to tool-use and meat-eating, her conversation with Michael Petraglia goes back several million years. But it poses a question still relevant today: will humans survive because of our technology, or despite it?

About Susana Carvalho

Dr Susana Carvalho is Associate Professor in Palaeoanthropology at the University of Oxford and is one of the main founders of the field of Primate Archaeology. She has been studying stone tool use by wild chimpanzees in Bossou, Guinea, West Africa, since 2006, and carrying archaeological research in the Koobi Fora area, Kenya, East Africa since 2008, with a current focus on the archaeology of the Pliocene. Since 2015 she has been the director of the Paleo-Primate Project Gorongosa, where an international team of 20 senior researchers is carrying an unprecedented interdisciplinary approach to understanding hominin origins and adaptations.

You can follow her on Twitter.


The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Jena was founded in 2014 to target fundamental questions of human history and evolution since the Paleolithic.