Middle Awash paleontological research is directed toward recovering additional fossils.  Paleontological research is exploring the evolutionary history of biotic communities and their parts, and relating this evolution to local, regional, and global tectonic and environmental changes.  Fossilized remains of fauna and flora are vitally important for providing biochronological tests of geochronological results, for illuminating the environments inhabited by the earliest hominids, and for functional and phylogenetic studies.  So far, vertebrate fossils have been collected from ca. 215 different localities across the Middle Awash study area, and hominid fossils are known from 13 different superimposed stratigraphic levels.