Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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On the Trail of our Human Ancestors: Conversation with Tim White, Professor of Integrative Biology; September 18, 2003, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Timothy White, who is Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. He specializes in human evolution and early human ancestors. His laboratory is part of the Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies at Berkeley. Professor White is also co-director of that center.

  1. Background ... influence of local habitat ... parents ... interdisciplinary studies came naturally ... education ... mentors
  2. Being A Paleoanthropologist ... searching for human origins ... intersection of physical, biological and social sciences ... focus on anatomy ... comparing man and chimpanzee ... importance of Ethiopia site
  3. Doing Field Work ... coordinated team of specialists ... remote site ... different strata of prehistory
  4. Discovery of the Earliest Human ... stone tools found at new site ... human cranium ... significance of time period ... Africa vs. Europe at 160,000 years ago ... rich data ... human ancestor ... pre-human ancestors
  5. Scientific Debate and Philosophical Implications ... competing theories ... creationism ... geological time ... mortuary practices ... new questions
  6. Lessons Learned ... advice to students ... the fragility of sites ... importance of diversity of scientists ... protecting national treasures for the benefit of humanity ... avoiding rush to judgment

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