Today nomadic peoples sometimes herd cattle through the region, but people do not live in the Lake Natron basin. The existing lake is a poisonously concentrated remnant of what used to be a huge, freshwater lake 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.
Even further back in the past, people did occupy this area. Just west of the lake is the resting place of Australopithecus boisei — the early East African hominin whose 1.75-million-year-old jaw and full set of teeth were found here in 1959. His dried bones are not unlike the calcified remains of Brandt's birds.