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Paleoanthropology: The Hard Evidence

International Symposium #96 group photo
Co-Sponsored with the American Museum of Natural History
April 6 - 10, 1984
American Museum of Natural History, New York

PUBLICATION:    Ancestors:  The Hard Evidence (Eric Delson, Ed.) Alan R. Liss, Inc., New York, 1985.


bookcoverKarl Dietrich Adam (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, West Germany)
Peter Andrews (British Museum, UK)
Anna K. Behrensmeyer (Nationa Museum of Natural History, USA)
Amilcare Bietti (University of Rome, Italy)
C.K. Brain (Transvaal Museum, South Africa)
Francis H. Brown (University of Utah, USA)
Ronald J. Clarke (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)
H.B.S. Cooke (Canada)
T. Davies (Australian National University)
Michael H. Day (St. Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, UK)
Eric Delson, organizer (Lehman College & American Museum of Natural History)
John de Vos (Rijksmuseum of Natural History, The Netherlands)
John G. Fleagle (State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA)
Jens Lorenz Franzen (Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, West Germany)
Frederick E. Grine (State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA)
John M. Harris (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA)
Ralph L. Holloway (Columbia University, USA)
Jean-Jacques Hublin (University of Paris VI, France)
Glynn Isaac (Harvard University, USA)
Donald C. Johanson (Institute of Human Origins, Berkeley, USA)
William L. Jungers (State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA)
Richard F. Kay (Duke University Medical Center, USA)
William H. Kimbel (Cleveland Museum of Natural History, USA)
Reinhart Kraatz (Universität Heidelberg, West Germany)
Jeffrey T. Laitman (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, USA)
R. Maier (Australian National University)
Wolfgang O. Maier (Zentrum der Morphologie, West Germany)
Ian McDougall (Australian National University)
Henry H. McHenry (University of California, Davis, USA)
Abel T. Nkini (Zentrum der Morphologie, West Germany)
Todd R. Olson (City University of New York Medical School, USA)
Lita Osmundsen (Wenner-Gren Foundation, USA)
David Pilbeam (Harvard University, USA)
Jakov Radovčić (Geološko-Paleontološki Muzej, Yugoslavia)
Yoel Rak  (Tel-Aviv University, Israel)
S. Mahmood Raza (Geological Survey of Pakistan)
G.P. Rightmire (State University of New York, Binghamton, USA)
Brigitte Senut (Musée de l’Homme, France)
S.M. Ibrahim Shah (Geological Survey of Pakistan)
Harry L. Shapiro (American Museum of Natural History, USA)
Elwyn L. Simons (Duke University Primate Center, USA)
Fred H. Smith (University of Tennessee, USA)
Arun Sonakia (Geological Survey of India)
Jack T. Stern, Jr. (State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA)
C.B. Stringer (British Museum, UK)
Randall L. Susman (State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA)
Christine Tardieu (Laboratoire d’Anatomie Compareé, USA)
Ian Tattersall, organizer (American Museum of Natural History, USA)
Herbert Thomas (Institut de Paléontologie, France)
Phillip V. Tobias (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)
Erik Trinkaus (University of New Mexico, USA)
John A. Van Couvering, organizer (American Museum of Natural History, USA)
Bernard Vandermeersch (Laboratorie d’Anthropologie, France)
Elisabeth S. Vrba (Transvaal Museum, South Africa)
Tim D. White (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
Milford H. Wolpoff (University of Michigan, USA)
Bernard Wood (Middlesex Hospital Medical School, UK)
Wu Rukang (Academia Sinica, People’s Republic of China)


From early in its history, the "Ancestors" project was designed to be multifa­ceted. In addition to the exhibition of original human fossils, the idea of a symposium at which curators of these fossils could present the results of their current work was among the first aspects planned. Once approval for the project was received, it was decided that a symposium volume would be a logical addition. This book is thus the outcome of the Ancestors symposium, "Paleoanthropology: The Hard Evidence," held from April 6 to April 10, 1984.

Each curator bringing fossils to the exhibit was invited to present a paper. About half accepted; the others, not specialists in paleoanthropology, declined. On the basis of the titles offered by these curators, a second group, consisting of colleagues with major research interests complementing those of the curators, was invited to participate in the scientific aspect of "Ancestors" by presenting a symposium paper (or chairing a session) and taking part in the fossil-study sessions. Almost all of the contributors to the symposium submitted papers for publication -- the few exceptions are noted in the introductory sections. Owing to financial exigencies, the majority of the participants thus invited were Americans, but a number of our most active colleagues from Eurasia and Africa were also included.

The symposium was planned to represent more of a stock-taking -- a summary of the state of paleoanthropology in the mid-1980's -- than a source of new directions, although some of those were included. The speakers were asked to concentrate on aspects or implications of the "hard evidence," the fossils themselves, in light of the direct association with the exhibition of original fossils. Again, in view of this focus, archeological presentations were not solicited, since within the time available broad­ening the range of topics would have meant reducing the depth of those covered.

The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research cosponsored the symposium with the American Museum of Natural History. In addition, Mrs. Lita Osmundsen, Director of Research at Wenner-Gren, joined Ian Tattersall, John Van Couvering, and myself on the Symposium Committee and gave us the benefit of her years of experience in organizing meetings of all sizes. The generous support provided by Wenner-Gren for the symposium and its publication was vital, and Mrs. Osmund­sen's active participation was itself an indispensible element in the success of the entire scientific program.

Although the study session is described in the first article, it is appropriate to note two aspects here. First, most of the financial support for that period of compara­tive study and research (apart from expenses for the curators) came from the Anthro­pology Program of the National Science Foundation and the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation; without this aid, combined with that from Wenner-Gren for the symposium, the scientific sessions would simply have been limited to the participating curators and would therefore have had much less lasting value and impact.

(excerpt from "Ancestors: The Hard Evidence" preface, written by Eric Delson)