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Living on the Edge: Neanderthals and Denisovans in Central Asia

Speaker(s): Bence Viola

San Francisco, CA

November 13, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

$12 – $15

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General Admission: $15
Leakey Foundation: $12

Central Asia and Siberia have for a long time played a very limited role in discussions of modern human origins. These areas were seen as peripheral to our story, which was thought to have mostly unfolded in Africa, Europe, and Eastern Asia. This story, however, is starting to change.

Over the last few years, new research is yielding evidence that Central Asia—particularly the Altai Mountains—was hardly the periphery but a hub of interaction for a variety of different hominin groups, from early modern humans and Neanderthals to the enigmatic Denisovans, a group only known from a few fragmentary fossils and their DNA.

In this lecture, Dr. Viola will share how ancient DNA and archaeological and morphological data are advancing our understanding of how these groups interacted—biologically, geographically, and culturally.

This event is presented in partnership by The Leakey Foundation and the California Academy of Sciences.

Sponsored by:
Camilla and George Smith
Ann and Gordon Getty


November 13, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
$12 – $15
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California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr 94118
San Francisco, CA 94118 United States
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Bence Viola

Dr. Viola is a palaeoanthropologist focusing on the biological and cultural interactions between different hominin groups in the Late Pleistocene.

After studying at the universities of Bordeaux and Vienna, he spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Viola's research uses an interdisciplinary approach combining morphological, archaeological, and genetic data to better understand how the Neanderthals, their enigmatic Asian cousins, the Denisovans, and the first modern humans interacted. He has led excavations—supported by The Leakey Foundation—in Central Europe and Central Asia, and is currently working in Sel'ungur cave in Kyrgyzstan.

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