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Carol Ward: The Shape of Human Origins

University of Toronto Department of Anthropology

Thursday, 16 April 2015 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (EDT)

Carol Ward: The Shape of Human Origins

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Presented by the Anthropology Colloquium Series, University of Toronto

The Shape of Human Origins

Carol V. Ward
Professor and Director of Anatomical Sciences
University of Missouri

Thursday, April 16, 2015
7:00-9:00pm, ES 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue, University of Toronto
Earth Sciences Centre, Reichman Family Lecture Hall
Followed by Reception

The transition to habitually terrestrial bipedal locomotion (i.e., walking upright) is a hallmark of early hominin evolution, and continues to be a topic that captivates the scientific community and public alike. To have an accurate understanding of how this transition occurred, we need to understand the nature of the ancestral condition from which hominins evolved. Although often ignored in favor of upper and lower limb fossils, the torso has been a locus of morphological change that reflects key adaptations to posture and locomotion, the biology of early hominins, and the patterns of selection that shaped them. New fossil evidence of the torso of Miocene apes and early hominins challenges assumptions about the evolution of locomotor adaptations in hominoids and the biology of early hominins. Combining the implications of these new fossils with novel analyses of previously known material provides new perspectives on the question of hominin origins and early evolution.

Carol is a paleoanthropologist interested in the evolution of apes and hominins. She is best known for description of new fossils of Australopithecus anamensis, A. afarensis, and Proconsul nyanzae and for research on postcranial morphology and locomotor adaptation in Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene hominoids. She is co-director of the West Turkana Paleo Project through the National Museums of Kenya, currently working at the A. anamensis site of Kanapoi and other sites throughout West Turkana. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has won several teaching awards. Carol Ward earned her BS in Anthropology and Zoology from the University of Michigan in 1986 and her PhD in Functional Anatomy and Evolution from the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1991. She joined the faculty at University of Missouri in 1991 in a joint appointment in the Departments of Anthropology and Anatomy. In 2006 she moved full time to the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences to found that department’s Integrative Anatomy group where she is Professor and Director of Anatomical Sciences.

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