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Professor Lee Berger to host online video lectures on human origins

- Wits University

Lectures will feature some of the University’s fossils, including the Taung Child, Homo naledi, Australopithecus sediba and various other fossils.

Wits University’s professor Lee Berger has launched a series of online video lectures that will cover various subjects on human origins and palaeoanthropology.

The lectures, which will be roughly 30 minutes long, will be featuring some of the University’s world-renowned fossils, including the Taung Child, Homo naledi, Australopithecus sediba and various other fossils from the Sterkfontein, Makapansgat and Swartkrans sites.

Wits University is the official custodian of some of the most precious fossils related to the origins of humankind.

“We at the university decided to do something special,” says Berger, a Professor in Palaeoanthropology and an Explorer at Large at National Geographic.

“We decided to give people a behind-the-scenes look at our fossil vault, which holds over 50% of the entire record of human origins known on the continent of Africa.” 

This vault is off-limits to the public and mostly only scientists are allowed inside.

Starting with the discovery, history and a demonstration of the original Taung Child fossil, discovered in 1924 in South Africa, Berger will use these original fossils and artefacts that are associated with it to tell the stories of how these fossils were discovered, studied and how they add to our knowledge of our origins as a species.

“We are extremely fortunate at Wits to have such a valuable collection of strategic assets that we can use, to share our knowledge of what makes us human,” says Berger.

“My vision with these videos is that they can be viewed by the general public to give them a glimpse of the world of palaeoanthropology and human origins, as well as to be used as a teaching tool for teachers and lecturers in their classrooms during these difficult times.”

Hosted on a special section of the Wits University website, and released on Youtube, the lectures will start off with more general stories and descriptions of some of the fossils, and progress into the finer details of the study of palaeoanthropology.

“With today’s online media being so engaging, I hope that with these videos we can create a whole new way of studying and sharing some of our exciting discoveries, and, hopefully stimulate engaging discussions related to human origins.”