What makes us human? How recent discoveries force us to rethink the origins of our species by Philipp Gunz


Date(s) - 20/05/2019
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

HS XVIIb Main Building UoC


by Philipp Gunz,
a biological anthropologists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

His research group studies the evolution of human development with a focus on the evolution of the face and brain

The African origin of our own species is well documented by fossils and genetic data of people living today. However, very little is known about the early phase of Homo sapiens evolution, as the fossil and archeological sites are scarce and sometimes poorly dated. Comparative analyses based on high-resolution computed tomographic scans show that these earliest Homo sapiens had distinctly modern-looking faces, but imprints of their braincases indicate an archaic brain shape. These differences might reflect altered neural architecture, however, in the absence of fossil brain tissue the underlying neuroanatomical changes as well as their genetic bases remain elusive. We address this challenging question through a novel interdisciplinary approach that brings together the analysis of fossil skulls, ancient genomes, brain imaging and gene expression.