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International Seminar Series: “Assessing the Role of Migration in Human Evolutionary History”

Wednesday, September 26th 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Description

Title of Presentation: Assessing the Role of Migration in Human Evolutionary History

Speaker: Dr. Fred Smith, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University

Presentation Overview: It is well-known that humans have itchy feet! Migration has been a fundamental aspect of human cultural evolution throughout recorded history and extending back into prehistory. Although there are certainly even earlier migrations, the earliest for which we have convincing evidence is the spread of early members of the genus Homo out of our natal continent of Africa perhaps as early as 2.1 million years ago. Subsequently we can trace the migration of our ancestors into more temperate (and adaptively demanding) environments based on archaeological and fossil human evidence. The origin of modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) represents yet another series of migrations from Africa beginning as early as 194,000 years ago. With the radiation of modern humans into Eurasia and ultimately to other parts of the world, we can also make use of genetic data, as well as skeletal and archaeological evidence. We now understand
as modern populations moved into Eurasia, they regularly interbred with Neandertals and other archaic peoples. Thus even going back to the roots of our species we have been a “melting pot,” providing even more depth to the argument for the unity of humankind.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Fred H. Smith is University Professor Emeritus at ISU where he served as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He has studied the human fossil record for almost 50 years, concentrating on Eurasian Neandertals and the origin of anatomically modern humans. In addition to ISU he has taught at the Universities of Tennessee, Michigan, Hamburg (Germany), Tübingen (Germany) and Zagreb (Croatia), as well as at Northern Illinois University and Loyola University Chicago. A former Fulbright Fellow (Croatia) and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow (Germany), Smith collaborates with several European researchers and has conducted excavations with a multinational team in Croatia for over 25 years. Eleven ISU students have participated in the Croatian excavations.

Series Overview: The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are usually experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political and social topics.

Series events have become one of the most popular internationally focused events on campus and continue to draw ever-growing crowds of students, faculty and community members. Audience members are given time at each event to raise questions to enable a two-way participation and learning.

International Seminar Series events are free and open to the public, and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center. The fall 2018 series will focus on immigration.

If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.


Office of International Studies and Programs
(309) 438-5276


Bone Student Center
200 N. University Street
Normal, IL
Old Main Room
(309) 438-4636