Presentation

Ninety years ago the first non-human representative of the hominin lineage was discovered at Taung, in South Africa, proving that as Darwin predicted, the genus Homo first emerged in Africa. Since that time, following the discovery in the 1960s of “early Man” at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, the human fossil record from Africa, covering nearly the last 2.5 million years, has increased in not only raw amount, but also in the preservation quality of the paleontological and cultural assemblages, anatomical diversity, morphodimensional variation, sex- and age-related individual representativeness of the remains, and resolution of the reconstructed geochronological, paleoenvironmental, paleoecological and technocultural contexts.

As a whole, this unique heritage now represents the most cogent evidence for the tempo and mode of human biocultural evolution. Nonetheless, a number of taxonomic and related phylogenetic and evolutionary issues continue to be critically important to paleoanthropology. Together with the major questions of the origin and most probable direct ancestor of the genus Homo, fundamental topics currently under debate include the number of species (co)existing during the Early Pleistocene; early Homo adaptive radiation under increasingly fluctuating climatic and environmental conditions; the origins and evolution of technology; the taxonomic status of the “habilines”; the relationships of African H. erectus/ergaster with the “habilines”, on the one hand, and the taxon likely representing the evolutionary link towards H. sapiens, i.e. H. heidelbergensis/rhodesiensis, on the other; and the appearance and spread of modern humans.

These and other related scientific issues will be discussed on 26-27 September 2014 at Toulouse, France, in the symposium The African Human Fossil Record (see Program). This exceptional public event, open to researchers and students in paleoanthropology and prehistory as well as to the nonprofessional audience, will present thirteen talks provided by eminent specialists discussing human ancestry, life-history, diet and behaviour of early Homo, the chrono-regional patterns of human evolution across the African Pleistocene, and the appearance and genotypic, phenotypic, and techno-cultural variation of our own genus and species.

The panel of speakers includes (in alphabetical order):

T.E. Cerling (Salt Lake City)

Thure E Cerling Department of Biology & Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA

Thure E. Cerling
Department of Biology & Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA

R.J. Clarke (Johannesburg)

Ronald J. Clarke Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Ronald J. Clarke
Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

C.M. Dean (London)

Christopher M. Dean Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, London, UK

Christopher M. Dean
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, London, UK

F. d’Errico (Bordeaux)

Francesco d'Errico CNRS, UMR 5199 PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Talence, France

Francesco d’Errico
CNRS, UMR 5199 PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Talence, France

F.E. Grine (Stony Brook)

Frederick E. Grine Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, USA

Frederick E. Grine
Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, USA

S. Harmand-Lewis (Stony Brook & Nanterre)

S. Harmand

Sonia Harmand-Lewis
Turkana Basin Institute, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, USA & CNRS, UMR 7055 Préhistoire et Technologie, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Nanterre, France

J. Hawks (Madison)

John Hawks Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

John Hawks
Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

J.-J. Hublin (Leipzig)

Jean-Jacques Hublin Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

Jean-Jacques Hublin
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

W.H. Kimbel (Tempe)

William H. Kimbel Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

William H. Kimbel
Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

M.G. Leakey (Nairobi & Stony Brook)

Meave G. Leakey Turkana Basin Institute, Nairobi, Kenya & Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, USA

Meave G. Leakey
Turkana Basin Institute, Nairobi, Kenya & Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, USA

F. Spoor (London & Leipzig)

Fred Spoor Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany & Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, UK

Fred Spoor
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany & Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, UK

C.B. Stringer (London)

Christopher B. Stringer Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, London, UK

Christopher B. Stringer
Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, London, UK

B.A. Wood (Washington)

Bernard A. Wood Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University, Washington D.C., USA

Bernard A. Wood
Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University, Washington D.C., USA

A key-event of the symposium will be the award ceremony at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle of Toulouse in honour of M.G. Leakey (Nairobi & Stony Brook) and her public talk Fieldwork in Africa, an historical perspective.

Plenary lectures

The symposium begins on Friday 26 September 2014 at the Salle du Sénéchal of Toulouse (17 rue de Rémusat; see the Venue link on this website), at 8:00 (registration); plenary lectures will take place starting at 9:00. On Saturday 27, the plenary lectures will begin at 10:30 (see detailed program).

Poster session

Results from ongoing paleoanthropological research dealing with the African fossil record will be presented in a poster session to be held on Saturday 27 September, 8:30-10:30.

We sincerely hope this scientific event will be of interest to you. We look forward to meeting you in Toulouse!

The Scientific Organizers