Isaiah Nengo, Turkana Basin Institute, “Finding Alesi: The Story of a New Infant Ancestor”
This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.
In 2015, paleoanthropologist Isaiah Nengo and fossil hunter John Ekusi discovered the complete skull of a baby ape in Kenya’s Turkana Basin. 13 million years ago a nearby volcano erupted and buried the forest where the baby ape lived, preserving the fossil and countless trees. It also provided us with the critical volcanic minerals needed to reliably date the fossil. The species may well be the ancestor of all living great apes and humans. The little creature, whose skull is roughly the size of a lemon, came from a family known as the nyanzapithecines. All humans and apes alive today come from a common lineage, but until now paleontologists had only managed to trace that line back about 10 million years ago so it was unclear what our ancestors looked liked further back, and if they originated in Africa or elsewhere. The discovery of Alesi shows that this group was close to the origin of living apes and humans and that this origin was African. Perhaps equally remarkable is the unprecedented cutting-edge technology pioneered by Nengo’s team to analyze the fossil. Joining forces with physicist Paul Tafforeau at the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France, a complete micron-level scan of the head was achieved, down to each layer of enamel laid down in Alesi’s teeth. This has permitted paleoanthropologists access to kinds of data never before available for a fossil hominoid specimen. Come hear about this amazing ape and its amazing discovery!
Our original OSS series!
5:30 – Coffee and cookies
6-7 – Lecture
7-8 Catered dinner
To register for OSS events, go to siegallifelonglearning.org/origins-science-scholars.html
For more information on OSS, call Felicia at 216-368-2090
The Origins Science Scholars program began on campus in 2009 and has become a favorite venue for Cleveland area folks interested in or curious about cutting edge science with topics changing every semester and ranging from the beginning of the universe, to the origin of the earth and solar system, to the origin and evolution of life on earth, the human mind and consciousness, and evolution and human health.