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Profs and Pints DC presents: “Seeking Our Earliest Ancestors,” with Dr. Amy L. Rector of Virginia Commonwealth University, a paleoanthropologist who has spent more than 20 years investigating human origins on the African continent.
What does it mean to be human? That’s the primary question that drives the research of Professor Amy Rector, a paleoanthropologist and paleoecologist who also serves as director World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Her quest for knowledge about our earliest ancestors has taken her to the field in Morocco, South Africa, and Ethiopia, and has her in the process of launching a new research project in Zambia. But you don’t have to go any farther than DC’s Little Penn Coffeehouse to learn about her most interesting findings and experiences.
Dr. Rector will discuss how her work involves identifying fossils from 2 to 3 million years ago to reconstruct what the world must have looked like when our ancestors woke up in the morning. Using such information, she seeks to piece together the story of how environmental contexts shaped the evolutionary history of our lineage. What was food for such ancestors? As important: What around them considered them to be food? The answers to these questions shed light on what traits enabled them to avoid starvation and escape predators long enough to pass on their genes.
She’ll discuss how we identify our ancestors in the fossil record and tell stories of fossil hunting adventures and experiences such as coming face to face with a hyena in the dark. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: Hominid fossils from South Africa. Photo from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.