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THE SOUTH AFRICAN FOSSIL RECORD: CHANGING NARRATIVES OF HUMAN EVOLUTION

Robyn Humphreys and Nomawethu Hlazo, PhD candidates, Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town

South Africa has one of the richest fossil records. New and remarkable specimens continue to be found in the Cradle of Humankind and surrounds, the most recent discoveries being ‘Little Foot’, Australopithecus sp ., Homo naledi and Australopithecus sediba. This course will discuss important discoveries and the people who made them, starting with the discovery of the Taung Child by Raymond Dart – thought to be the ‘missing link’. Shortly afterwards Robert Broom discovered Paranthropus robustus – which led to expeditions and discoveries in East Africa. These discoveries were important in establishing South Africa as a scientific centre and changed prevailing ideas of our common human origins. The course will evaluate how these important fossils continue to challenge ideas of human evolution, and how the scientists who found them remain involved in the politics of the day. Some of the consequences of their quest to understand our common human origins will be discussed.

 

LECTURE TITLES

  1. Exploring the South African fossil record and human origins  Nomawethu Hlazo
  2. The men behind the fossils Robyn Humphreys

 

Recommended reading

Kuljian, Christa. Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins. Jacana, 2016.

Legassick, Martin, and Rassool. Ciraj. 1999.  Skeletons in the Cupboard: Museums and the Incipient Trade in Human Remains,        1907-1917. Cape Town: University of the Western Cape,

 

 

Date: Monday 20–Tuesday 21 January
Time: 3.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R236 Staff & Students R118
Venue: Classroom 2A Kramer Law Building, UCT