World’s top scholars on modern human origins to gather here

Some of the world’s top scholars on “Modern Human Origins” will gather March 26 at the University for the last of a four-part series of “Conversations” on key issues that will affect the future of the University, the community and the world.

Arts & Sciences is sponsoring the “Conversations,” which are free and open to the public, as part of the University’s 150th anniversary celebration. “Modern Human Origins” will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. in Graham Chapel.

Fred H. Smith, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Loyola University Chicago, will moderate the event. A human paleontologist, Smith is a leading expert on European Neandertals and the origin of modern people.

Other participating scholars include Washington University’s Anne M. Bowcock, Ph.D., professor of genetics, of pediatrics and of medicine in the School of Medicine; population and evolutionary biologist Alan Templeton, Ph.D., the Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences; and biological anthropologist Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences.

The other human origins Conversation participants are: Paleolithic archeologist Catherine Perlès, Ph.D., professor of prehistory at the Université de Paris X-Nanterre; human paleontologist Chris Stringer, Ph.D., professor and Merit researcher at London’s Natural History Museum; and Paleolithic archeologist João Zilhão, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Archaeology at the Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, and a Humboldt Fellow at the Universität zu Köln, Germany, this year.

“The emergence and spread of early modern humans in the Late Pleistocene Epoch — between 100,000 and 30,000 years ago — have captured the academic and public imagination, because this was the time period for the full establishment of modern human biology and cultural adaptations,” said Trinkaus, who helped organize the Conversation and is considered one of the world’s most influential scholars of Neandertal biology and evolution.

“Its consideration therefore addresses issues of modern hu-man ancestry and the meaning of being human. This Conversation will focus on these concerns from the three perspectives that shed light on the subject: the human fossil record, the Paleolithic archaeological record, and past and present human molecular variation.”

For more information, call 935-7304.

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