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October 20, 2009

Brother Lucian Blersch Symposium Addresses "Hominid Evolution: New Looks At Old Fossils"

Almost everything we know about human origins has been discovered during the past 100 years. Recent fossil discoveries and new approaches to understanding existing fossils provide exciting new insights into our origins and evolution. This year, the 2009 Brother Lucian Blersch Symposium will explore these topics with three guest speakers on Friday, Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Mabee Ballroom at the Robert and Pearle Ragsdale Center. 

This year’s symposium will feature three human paleontology researchers who will present information on the latest discoveries in the field. The speakers include Carol Ward, David Frayer and Allan Hook who will address age old questions concerning human evolution, such as what were the earliest hominids like? What did they eat? Or when did we gain our distinctive features such as manual dexterity, bipedal locomotion and large brains?

Ward, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at the University of Missouri, conducts research based on fossils from East and South Africa, which cover a crucial time span when Miocene apes were diversifying and ultimately gave rise to early bipedal hominins or australopithecines.

Frayer, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kansas, focuses his research on the evolution of European Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic populations, stressing that evolution did not stop with the appearance of “modern” Homo sapiens. His more recent work has expanded to include several topics ranging from the Pakistani Neolithic to early Homo in Eritrea and even a critique on Homo floresiensis (also known as the hobbit).

Hook is the Lucian Professor of Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University and is responsible for organizing this symposium. Dr. Hook has taught at St. Edward’s since 1988 and his research centers on the behavioral and biodiversity of solitary wasps. His education includes a BS in Biology from the University of Maine, and an MS in Entomology from the University of Georgia and PhD in Zoology and Entomology from Colorado State University.


10 a.m. Welcome
10:15 a.m. Allan Hook: “Behavioral Ecology of Sand Wasps at the Pedernales River”
10:30 a.m.  Carol Ward: “Body Shape, Biology and Hominin Origins”
11:30 a.m. David Frayer: “Neandertals and Us”


Organized by the School of Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University, this event is free and open to the public. This annual symposium honors Brother Lucian Blersch, CSC, a longtime professor of engineering at St. Edward’s who died in 1986 and in whose name a professorship in the School of Natural Sciences was endowed by a gift from J.B.N. Morris, hs ’48, ’52, and his family.

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