Publishing

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ma database
Middle Awash Publications

Once the laboratory studies have been completed (studies may take several years of comparisons after the fossils have been cleaned and restored, the archaeological assemblages analyzed, and all the geochemical and geochronological analyses completed), they are submitted by the scientific teams to research journals.  For particularly important fossils, the top world journals of Science (US) and Nature (UK) are often the venue for the first announcement of the most important fossils.  A week before publication, these journals inform the global journalistic community, under a promise of secrecy (an embargo) so that reporters have time to check their stories with the discoverers and scientists who have written about them, and have time to file accurate stories on the day of publication.  Once the publication of the paper has been made, important paleoanthropological stories may appear in newspapers, and on electronic media across the increasingly interconnected world.  In this way, the world has come to see Ethiopia as the major contributor to paleoanthropology over the last decade, culminating with the publication of Ethiopian fossils, Australopithecus garhi and Ardipithecus ramidus on the cover of TIME magazine in 1999 and 2001.

Meanwhile, the study of the fossil does not end with this first announcement.  The research team will already be at work preparing more comprehensive papers, far longer than the simple announcements that Science and Nature allow.  These papers, often published as monographs or in specialty journals, are important to the global community of research scientists working on human origins and evolution, and allied geological, biological, and cultural fields.  Once the original fossils and their anatomies and dimensions have been described, illustrated, and analyzed comprehensively by the research teams which find them, these antiquities become available to the entire global scientific community.  The Ethiopian fossils, for example, are housed in perpetuity at the National Museum of Ethiopia, and many specialists travel to the Paleoanthropology Laboratory there from around the world to conduct further studies on the antiquities.