Early human skull against black background

$15 per guest
Academy and Leakey Foundation members; seniors: $12
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Living on the Edge: Neanderthals and Denisovans in Central Asia
Featuring Dr. Bence Viola
Wednesday, November 13, 7 pm
African Hall

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 Leakey 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.

The Leakey Lecture Series is presented in partnership with the Leakey Foundation.

About Bence Viola

Dr. 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.