Based on a combination of molecular and paleontological evidence, the human evolutionary lineage appears to have diverged from that of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, between 6 and 8 million years ago. In the past two decades, teams of paleontologists working in Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad have recovered spectacular fossil finds that date to this critical time period. These finds, referred to Ardipithecus, Orrorin, and Sahelanthropus, have been claimed to be the earliest members of the human evolutionary lineage (or hominins). This lecture explores the inherent difficulties in identifying the earliest hominins and in drawing inferences about their evolutionary relationships. When viewed in a broader comparative context and with a critical appreciation of the limitations of the evidence and methods employed, it is possible to reassess claims about the phylogenetic relationships of the earliest purported hominins.
A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm.
New York University
Registration is closed.
This meeting is free, but registration is required.