What’s on : Lectures

But a monkey shaved: human evolution through mammalian lens

1 Nov 2011
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Sarah Elton
But a monkey shaved: human evolution through mammalian lens

Event Information

But a monkey shaved: human evolution through a mammalian lens

Dr Sarah Elton, Reader in Anatomy; Academic Director, HYMS Postgraduate Centre
Hull York Medical School

There’s more to studying human evolution than digging up fossils. By examining the animals and plants found alongside our hominin ancestors, we can construct a picture of the environments they lived in, and how they might have interacted with the creatures around them. In this lecture, I will investigate the mammal communities found at famous fossil sites in southern and East Africa, comparing the evolution and behaviour of hominins, monkeys, cats and pigs.

by Rod Leonard

In this wide ranging lecture, Dr Elton demonstrated how our knowledge of human evolution could be extended by studying the other animals living alongside the early hominin species. The challenge is that there are relatively few hominin fossils since they evolved about 8-7m years ago, no archaeological record from before 2.5mya, no DNA evidence, and very different climate and habitats compared with the present day. In a case study based at Koobi Fora in the Rift Valley about 2mya, palaeo-environmental reconstructions have been undertaken on site-based, regional, and global scales. Key dimensions of critical bones from fossil hominins and other mammals have been compared statistically with modern specimens of similar species from a range of known habitats, and the habitats of the fossil mammals, and therefore of the hominins living alongside them, have been deduced.


Sarah Elton is co-editor of the following book which is on a theme related to the lecture: