Dr. Darryl De Ruiter, chair of the anthropology department at Texas A&M University, will be the featured speaker for two public science lectures set Thursday and Friday on the TJC and UT Tyler.
The events are free and open to the public.
De Ruiter is a paleoanthropologist whose research focuses on the ecology and evolution of the early hominins of Africa. His research originally centered on the robust australopiths of South Africa, though more recently he has been concentrating on the origin of the genus Homo, and on early representatives of that genus.
In 2010, he and his research team announced the discovery of a new hominin species — Australopithecus sediba — from the site of Malapa in South Africa. Australopithecus sediba represents a curious mixture of both australopith-like and Homo-like morphologies, and based on this mosaic of characters, they hypothesized that it represents the australopith ancestor of the genus Homo. In 2015, De Ruiter and his research team announced the discovery of another new hominin species – Homo naledi – from the site of Rising Star, also in South Africa.
The first lecture, entitled “A Tale of Two Body Plans: Australopithecus sediba, Homo naledi, and the origin of the genus Homo,” will be held 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Apache Rooms of Rogers Student Center on the TJC central campus.
In his second lecture, set for 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in the UT Tyler University Theatre, De Ruiter will discuss “New and Confusing: How Fossil Discoveries Have Continually Challenged our Understanding of Human Evolution.” A reception with free food and beverages will be held from 5 to 6 p.m.
The events, which are part of annual Darwin Day activities, are sponsored by TJC, UT Tyler, The Center for Earth & Space Science Education at TJC, Discovery Science Place, the National Science Foundation, and Alpha Chi National College Honor Society.
For more information, go to darwindaytyler.org.