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Ghostly lineages and sparse fossils: tackling the problem of hominid diversity in deep time

5:00pm - 6:30pm / Thursday 9th May 2024 / Venue: Lecture Theatre C Central Teaching Hub
Type: Lecture / Category: Department
  • Admission: This public event is free to attend but you must sign up through this link: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/university-of-liverpool/t-nogyrrz
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The Merseyside Evolutionary Network Distinguished Lecture Series (MENDLS), a new collaboration between the Human Origins Group at the University of Liverpool and RCEAP at Liverpool John Moores University, are pleased to announce their launch event: “Ghostly lineages and sparse fossils: tackling the problem of hominid diversity in deep time”, the inaugural lecture by Profs Robert A Foley and Marta Mirazón Lahr (University of Cambridge).

The event will take place at 5-6.30pm on Thursday the 9th of May in the Central Teaching Hub Lecture Theatre C (University of Liverpool), followed by a wine reception. This public event is free to attend, though please sign up through Ticketsource: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/university-of-liverpool/t-nogyrrz

Ghostly lineages and sparse fossils: tackling the problem of hominid diversity in deep time

Robert A Foley & Marta Mirazón Lahr

Over half a century, gene-based approaches to human evolution have had a major effect on both how we investigate our evolution, and what is now known. Spurred first by developments in sequencing, and then by advances in the retrieval of DNA from fossils and sediments, genomics is now one of the main driving forces in the evolutionary and historical human sciences.

However, when put into the context of the whole course of hominin evolution during the last seven million years, the impact has been patchy. Most work has focused on the last few hundred thousand years, and predominantly in Eurasia. This is unfortunate, as this period is the tip of the palaeonthropological iceberg, and Africa rather than Eurasia is the centre of key evolutionary events. Recently ghost lineages – lineages inferred to have existed in the past but for which there is no fossil evidence – have begun to change this situation. While the fossil record for the period from one million years ago remains sparse, integrating these with the insights from ape and hominin genomics allows us to explore the nature of hominin diversity in the period that gives rise to the evolution of modern humans, and the evolutionary processes involved.