THE 50TH JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH DISTINGUISHED LECTURE
A New Face to an Old Name: Recent Discovery of a Cranium of the earliest Australopithecus in Ethiopia.
Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie
Curator of Physical Anthropology, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Adjunct Professor, Case Western Reserve University
Thursday, September 24, 2020, 7:00 p.m. MDT-- Via Zoom Webinar (1000 participant limit - first-come-first-served)
To register: https://unm.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ap422-q6RBWjKw-hTdkVSw
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Woranso-Mille, a paleoanthropological site located in the Afar region of Ethiopia, has become one of the most important sites for understanding the evolutionary history of early hominins during the mid-Pliocene. The geological sequence at this site (~150 meters-thick) samples almost one and a half million years, between >4.3 and <3.0 million years ago (Ma). It is the only site thus far that has provided incontrovertible fossil evidence showing that there were multiple related hominin species co-existing in close geographic proximity during the mid-Pliocene (3.5 – 3.3 Ma). Recently, a 3.8-million-year-old almost complete hominin cranium was discovered at the site and it was assigned to A. anamensis - the earliest known species of the genus Australopithecus – dated to 4.2 – 3.9 Ma. In addition to revealing the face of A. anamensis for the first time, the new cranium also challenged the long-held hypothesis of direct, linear evolution from A. anamensis to Lucy’s species, A. afarensis, and added about 100kyr to the younger end of the A. anamensis time range. A new, more complex scenario for the origins of the human lineage is discussed in light of these latest finds and analyses.
Dr. Haile-Selassie was named by the prestigious journal Nature as one of the World’s top 10 scientists for 2019. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley and has been leading expeditions in his native Ethiopia for decades, personally discovering and analyzing many important fossils of several Australopithecine & pre-Australopithecine species dating between about 5.8 and 2.5 million years ago, as well as a number of fossils of early forms of genus Homo.
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Lawrence Guy Straus, Leslie Spier Distinguished Professor Emeritus/Editor-in-Chief