Ancient Sex and the Production of Human Diversity – a talk in Cape Town

Mar 01, 2018 No Comments by

On 14th March Professor Rebecca Ackermann will present a free public talk on ‘Ancient Sex and the Production of Human Diversity’ at the SA Observatory Auditorium* at 5pm

Abstract: Among the many recent advances in our understanding of human origins, one of the most exciting has been the discovery that our lineage was complex and reticulate, with contributions from multiple archaic groups making us the humans we are today, in all our diversity. Here, I will discuss our current understanding of the role hybridization has played in human evolution, with a particular focus on the last million years and recent ancestors such as Neanderthals and Denisovans.  I will concentrate on what we currently know about the morphology of hybrids, how we identify them in the fossil record, the current (and rapidly growing) genetic evidence for hybridization, and how the swapping of genes provided important benefits that changed the diversity and adaptability of our species.

About the Speaker: Rebecca R Ackermann is a Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town where she has been employed since 2000.  Her research uses cutting-edge morphometric techniques to examine skeletal variation in fossil hominins and primates.  This work is aimed at understanding how evolutionary processes such as adaptation, hybridization, or even random chance can change morphology through time.  Rebecca is an NRF B2 rated researcher and a recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award at UCT.

*Directions to SAAO Auditorium : From the N2, turn off to the M57 – Liesbeek Parkway; turning in the direction of Cape Town and continue until the traffic lights with Hartleyvale (hockey and football) on your left. Turn right at traffic lights into Observatory Road, pass the River Club; the S A Astronomical Observatory is next on the left. Once through the security gates bear left following the SALT signs to the auditorium i.e. last building on the left (white with stoep & ramp).


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