we are pleased to announce the 14th annual Martin Schwarzbach colloquium. We would like to warmly invite you to participate in this exciting meeting taking place on May, 28th. This year our colloquium focuses on recent advances in human evolution. We are especially pleased that Prof. Dr. Katerina Harvati (Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, Germany) and Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie (Curator of Physical Anthropology, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, US), two outstandig researchers, will present their latest research results to us this year.
Prof. Dr. Harvati is a paleoanthropologist specializing in Neanderthal evolution, modern human origins and the application of 3-D geometric morphometric and virtual anthropology methods to paleoanthropology. Her research was named one of the top 10 scientific discoveries of the year 2007 by TIME magazine for demonstrating the African origin of all modern humans.
Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie is one of the world’s foremost experts in paleoanthropology and is one of the “Nature 10” listed scientists of 2019. His continued contributions to this scientific discipline are helping to reshape understanding of humanity’s ancient family tree and change conventional thinking about human evolution.
15.00 – 15.15h (CET): Words of welcome
15.15 – 16.15h: Prof. Dr. Katerina Harvati
“The Apidima fossil humans and the role of South-East Europe in human evolution”
The timing and number of early dispersals of Homo sapiens out of Africa is a matter of great interest and debate. Broad consensus exists that the major dispersal of early modern humans started 70-50 thousand years ago (ka), reaching the Near East by 60 ka and Europe by 45 ka, and eventually replacing archaic humans around the world. However, a well documented population of early Homo sapiens is known to have lived in the Near East already by 130-100 ka and possibly as early as 180 ka, raising the possibility of earlier dispersals and potential interactions between early modern humans and other Pleistocene hominins. The re-analysis and dating of the Apidima fossil human crania indicate an earlier and more geographically widespread dispersal event of early Homo sapiens than previously suspected, reaching South East Europe as early as 210 ka. This evidence fits well with the fossil record from the Near East, as well as with paleogenetic evidence suggesting an early interbreeding event between Neanderthals and early modern humans before 200 ka. The implications for the role of South-East Europe in human evolution will be discussed.
16.15 – 16.45h: Break
16.45 – 17.45h: Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie
“Shaking the Human Family Tree: Recent fossil discovieries from Woranso-Mille, Afar region, Ethiopia”
Woranso-Mille, a paleoanthropological site located in the Afar region of Ethiopia, has become one of the most important sites providing fossils that help us better understand the evolutionary history of early hominins during the mid-Pliocene. The geological sequence at this site samples almost one and a half million years of the geological past, 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 (MRD) was discovered at the site and it was assigned to Australopithecus anamensis – the earliest known species of the genus Australopithecus – now dated to 4.2 – 3.8 Ma. MRD reveals the face of A. anamensis for the first time and adds about 100 kyr to the younger end of the species. Most importantly, MRD shook the human family tree by challenging the long-held hypothesis of linear transition from A. anamensis to Lucy’s species, A. afarensis. This talk will describe the discovery and interpretation of MRD, highlight some of the major fossil discoveries from Woranso-Mille, and how they are re-shaping our understanding of the earlier phases of our evolutionary history.