CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 20, 1999
Renowned anthropologist to speak at UI Oct. 28 on Neandertals,
IOWA CITY, Iowa Erik Trinkaus, internationally
renowned expert on the Neandertals, will speak about human evolution at a
free public lecture at the University of Iowa Thursday, Oct. 28. His presentation,
"Latest European Discoveries Raise the Question: Did Neandertals and
Modern Humans Share Genes?" will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Macbride Hall
Auditorium on the UI campus.
The controversy surrounding the Neandertals and their
place in the ancestry of modern humans has continued since the fossilized
remains of this stocky, powerful, human-like being were first discovered in
the Neander Valley, Germany in 1856. Some experts feel that the Neandertals
were quite different from modern humans and probably contributed little to
our own family tree. Recent DNA studies would tend to support this. Others,
however, have argued that the Neandertals probably interbred with modern humans
providing genes to the modern human pool.
Trinkaus has recently examined the remains of a largely
complete childs skeleton buried with shell ornaments and covered in
red ocher pigment at the Portuguese site of Abrigo do Lagar Velho, and dated
to 24,500 years ago. This individual exhibits characteristics that indicate
a mixing of European early modern human and Neandertal features. This mosaic
suggests interbreeding between the two populations in southern Iberia and
argues against the complete replacement of Neandertals by modern humans. Trinkaus
will examine what is known about the Neandertals and will discuss the significance
of the latest discoveries.
Trinkaus, a professor of anthropology at Washington
University in St. Louis, is a member of The National Academy of Sciences,
the author of numerous scientific articles on paleoanthropology, and the co-author
with Pat Shipman of "The Neandertals: Of Skeletons, Scientists, and Scandal,"
published by Vintage Books in 1994.
His visit is sponsored by The Office of the State
Archaeologist of Iowa, the department of anthropology, the department of geoscience,
the Museum of Natural History, and the Medical Museum, all at the UI, as well
as the Iowa State University Archaeology Laboratory. Funding has also been
provided through a grant from the Iowa City/Coralville Visitors Bureau.