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Presented By: Earth and Environmental Sciences

Smith Lecture: Human evolution in South Africa: carbonates, chronologies and decolonisation

Robyn Pickering, University of Capetown

South Africa has an extraordinary record of human evolution. Knowing how old sites are is a critical piece of the puzzle and my own work has focused on adapting the U-series chronometer to be applicable to a range of South African sites of varying ages. In the Cradle of Humankind, fossil bearing sediments are interbedded with speleothems. U-Pb dating of these flowstones provides the first direct chronology for this region, allows for different fossil beds to be correlated and suggests a palaeoenvironmental control over the nature of cave deposits. After a well over a decade of research, it is possible to interrogate this U-Pb speleothem database to access factors controlling age quality, ranging from diagenesis to initial Pb conditions. Human evolution research in South Africa has received international attention for nearly a century and is vast and broad in terms of research foci. However, the leading researchers have been almost entirely men, with women and people of colour under-represented, and black women largely absent. The Human Evolution Research Institute (HERI) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has set out to disrupting, transform and decolonise this patriarchal narrative of human evolution in South Africa

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October 29, 2021 (Friday) 10:00am
Meeting ID: 98984587392

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