The Raymond Dart Lecture with Professor Bernard Wood: ORIGINS

‘Origins’ research in palaeoanthropology mainly focuses on three origins problems. The origin of our own lineage, the origin of our own genus, Homo, and the origin of our own species, Homo sapiens.

 In each case researchers seek answers to three questions. When? Where? Why? This talk will explain why the search for reliable answers to these questions for the first two of these three origins problems is almost certainly doomed to failure. Most talks about human evolution focus on, and often oversell, what the fossil record can tell us. This talk will stress what we do not know, and will argue that, for progress to be made, it is important to understand that some research questions in human evolution may never be answered to our satisfaction. We need to learn how to live with an incomplete data set.

Professor Bernard Wood

bernard wood

Professor Bernard Wood is one of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists and is currently head of the Centre for the Advanced Study of Human Palaeobiology at George Washington University, USA in the Columbian College of Arts and Science.

Professor Wood’s research interests are all related in one way or another to a long-standing pre-occupation with hominin systematics. How can we improve our ability to recognize species in the fossil record, and how can we do a better job of reconstructing their evolutionary relationships?

At the beginning of his career Professor Wood was fortunate that Richard Leakey provided him with the opportunity to be involved with research on the famous Koobi Fora for a fossils from northern Kenya. His main contribution was not only the analysis of the fossil hominin cranial remains, but the opportunity to be part of the broader Koobi Fora Research Project provided invaluable exposure to the wide a range of disciplines that are needed to understand how landscapes and biota evolve.

raymond dart
Professor Raymond Dart with the Taung Child, the fossilised skull of a young Australopithecus africanus. Professor Dart described it as a new species in the journal Nature in 1925.

Professor Raymond Dart

Born and raised in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong, Raymond Dart is one of Australia’s most celebrated palaeoanthropologist. Raymond is best known for his involvement in the 1924 South African discovery of the first fossil ever found of Australopithecus africanus, an extinct hominin closely related to humans.

With launch of the new Centre of Human Evolution at the Griffith University Nathan campus, the Raymond Dart Lecture will be an annual event paying homage to Raymond Dart by presenting some of the brightest minds and newest research in paleoanthropology.

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