AUSTIN, Texas—Austin’s dynamic technology community will serve as a highly appropriate backdrop when ancient fossils and 21st century technologies converge for an international gathering of anthropologists.
On Oct. 18-19, the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin and the Leakey Foundation of San Francisco will host these scientists in Austin for a two-day public forum, “New Views of Old Bones: Advances in Human Origins Technology.” Using sophisticated computer engineering and imaging methods in innovative ways, these men and women are offering dramatic new insights about the course of human evolution millions of years ago.
Anthropologist Dr. Meave Leakey will headline the meeting with a public lecture at 8 p.m., Oct. 18, in Gregory Gymnasium on the university campus. She is the standard-bearer of a family of paleoanthropologists who have been uncovering fossil clues to the origins of our earliest ancestors in Africa for 70 years. Free tickets to this event will be available starting Oct. 9 through the ticket office of the Bass Concert Hall and the Frank Erwin Center.
In 1994 Leakey’s field expedition discovered a new species of hominid, or early human, that began to walk upright at least four million years ago, half a million years earlier than previously thought. In 1999 her research team found a 3.5 million-year-old skull said to belong to a new branch of the human family tree. The discovery of this fossil, Kenyanthropus platyops, was the forerunner of others announced in 2002 that have overturned the prevailing view that a single line of descent extended through the early stages of human ancestry.
“Meave Leakey is the perfect choice to kick off the weekend’s events,” said Dr. John Kappelman of the Department of Anthropology. “Not only is she the consummate field scientist, but with each of her fossil discoveries, she employs the latest advances in laboratory technology to inform her analysis.”
With computer technology, imaging methods and genetics advancing at a breathtaking pace, anthropologists have innovated applications to the study of human ancestors. At the 2002 L.S.B. Leakey Symposium on Oct. 19, renowned scientists from England, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the U.S. will demonstrate how these new tools have expanded insight into hominid cranial anatomy, human locomotion, primate vision and teaching methods in physical anthropology. The 2002 L.S.B. Leakey Symposium is open to the public and will be in Welch Hall 3.502 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Leakey Foundation of San Francisco is organizing the scientific meeting in Austin. A nonprofit membership organization, the Leakey Foundation supports human origins research worldwide and has funded the field work of the Leakeys and more than 1,000 other scientists since 1968.
For more information contact: Bob Lasher, The Leakey Foundation, 415-561-4646, or Robin Gerrow, College of Liberal Arts, 512-232-2145.