tv Lydia Pyne Discusses Seven Skeletons CSPAN April 16, 2017 4:28am-5:14am EDT
[applause] [inaudible conversations] in the final offer you will hear from the san antonio book festival is lydia pint. she discusses her lesser known apostle discovery have changed our understanding of evolution. >> good afternoon. were going to go ahead and get started. we like to welcome you to the skeletons in the closet session. my name is jennifer i'm a professor at an apology here in
san antonio and this is my colleague, lydia pine. we like to thank you for coming to the session and we want to thank the san antonio public library and the southwest school of arts and crafts for opening up their abilities for this great event today. we are also supposed to encourage people to post any of your photos, tweets, put those up on social media and use the # as a book festival.
idea have those to hand out so definitely stop by and pick up your where copy of the child from today. >> absolutely. >> so let me introduce lith lidia pine she's in the culture she got undergraduate degree in anthropology from arizona state. sorry. [laughter] and also received a ph.d. in history at asu as well. she has done archive work and
southwest, africa, eat yoap why and uzbekistan and iran, and countrily living in austin where she has a position as a visiting tell fellow at the studies texas in austin. seven skeleton is a readable book and brings to light celebrity of fossils is her third book. and her work is appeared in places like the atlantic, appendix and review and join e in in welcoming lidia -- [applause] well, thank you for coming i really appreciate you guys taking the time to come out and talk fossil and history of science i'm really excited. i'm excited to spend time here
to talk about seven skeleton of the world human fossils last book here and to also talk about the nature of celebrity science. how do scientific discoveries become famous? why do certain scientific discoveries become famous and others don't? these were with the questions those sets of questions were what really motivated me to start working on this particular book project. the idea that we know certain things really well. we know charles darwin. we know isaac newton. we know about lucy famous fossil. but why do we know about those instead of other things that did just as much for the scientific community? we're with able to put forward scientific ideas. all of those sofortsz sorts of things so that underscored by interest in writing a book like seven skeletons. which sort of brings us to the point what had is seven skeletons about it. it is about seven skeleton no
it's about seven -- seven fossils that are famous and significant in the history of the study of human evolution. i was intrelsed in this particular seven and some might be intrelsed in neanderthal. others might not be quite as familiar like the tilt done hoax or maybe had sedobo a recent discovery. but i pick these seven because i felt like they were different kinds of famous sort of seven different kinds of famous and i thought that would be a really interesting way to accident employer the history of science in the history of human e evolution. so the book is written as seven profiles almost as if i take each of the fossils and turn it into a biography. so the the first chapter is biography of the old man and neanderthal and work our way through the other seven and we can step back and talk about that.
in the q and a session -- and the research in order to -- in order to get into and be able to put together the the biogs if is of fossils it draws from a lot of different disciplines so definitely history and philosophy of science research being able to work in archive of different institutions, looking through reading scientist papers. their notebook, research and tig this as they're trying to understand them. and i also ended up using a lot of interviews with with current scientists today. and also spending time looking at poses sills themselves so if these fossils with jennifer was kind enough to bring replica of our discussion today, the old man is neanderthal i felt like if i wanted to o write his story to write his biography i needed to be able to bring together all of these kinds of different sources.
so to that i'd like to share couple of stories with you to kick things off about a favorite fossil that turns the one of jennifer's favorite fossils as well. the child from south africa. so this is a -- copy this is a cap of what the fossil looks like. it is this is life sized so it is definitely a juvenile fossil when the tom baby as it sometimes called dies, it was -- estimated that it was three years old. and the fossil was found in several parts so we have the first part is this little facial part. so you can see back of it. you can see his little teeth you can see it is very tiny. you have the little tiny mandible important to keep in mind to the story that i'm going to tell you a tiny mandible here and third part of the fossil that made it so interesting is this is actually a fossilized brain from the child. the poses siling was found in 1923, excuse me 19 the 24, and
at that had point it was a fossil that completely changed ow scientist thought about human origin and human evolution so with with that in mind you've got sort of the tom child up here, to set the mood. i'd like to share a couple of quick stories here if the tom child. the the first time i ever met a celebrity was on a june winter morning in johan necessary book in northern south alaska as part of the museum, summer curriculum we attended lecture, girch by disclosed scientist professor phillip for his talk professor had pulled out well known from the universities fossil vault on wooden trays showing them off like rare are gems awaiting as we file in to take our seats. as students we had all seen so kat like these -- of these fossils before, but
here we were going to get to see the real thing. but tobias was a thin man with a carefully combed white hair, and a meticulously knotted tie. modest 5'4" i felt i towered over him and he's in a laboratory coat with a small wooden box he began his lecture by describing several south africa well known fossil or human ancestors, picking one of the specimen inintrongt of him and pointing out a characterize like what we just did here. pointing out a characterize of the bone and then carefully putting fossil back on its tray. the man exuded, and scientific, the fossils we were log at represented decades of research and epitomize crucial role that south africa place in understanding human revolution as stories about different fossils today it was obvious
that professor tobias. given this lecture many times before but we had never seen and it we were in trance. but the specimen that everyone was particularly into was the tom child. a fossil whose history loomed larger than life in the field of paleo anthropology and professor tobias worked to the end of the table with a twinkle in his eye he pulled it a little bit closer or. drawing out the anticipation he finally opened the box the theatrical threar. he pulled out the tiny cranium, and the little tine mandible. pieces were small, graph and easily fit into hiswettered hands and said box was the same by raymond used to store fossil at the university for decades. after rerecounting the story in the academic advisory found fossil in a box from the line mark mine he put fossil pieces
together so that lower jaw rested under tiny face. fossil stared at us kind of like this sizing up our group. professor tobias moved a little mandible up and down -- clickings to sills tiny teeth together. and launched into a well rehearsed comedy act of sorts. it has a tom child telling a few jokes, with commenting on the weather -- offer aing some insight about early days of paleo anthropology. this was met with stunned shocked silence. surrounded fossil only moments before when tobias described a historic significance now seemed oddly out of place. to earnest undergarages it was like -- how could someone as respected as professor tobias show something famous as the tom fossil this way. this wasn't the way we were supposed to experience it. this fossil should be in a vault, museum dismay behind glass.
anywhere but auditions as a straight guy so that was my experience meeting the tom child. and i'd like to -- jump out to talk a little bit about raymond dart to share one of my favorite story trs the book about the discovery of the fossil so that was me sort of discovering the fossil an seeing the real thing as an undergraduate. and i'd like to share with you this -- this story because it is hilarious, and it's one as i said definitely within of my favorites. so in january 19 the 24 raymond dart was a young australian beginning his career at the university in johanburg to create a medical and agnatny department and two years prier in london after the mentorship of british neurothrough elliot smith. at end of the studies in london made possibly scholarship apply for a newly vacant position.
although dart was rat arer horrified at the prospect of heading to south africa away from the the ?ifng community of london. he successfully applied for position with every intention is of returning to london at some point in the future. when dart arrived at university he began to establish economic curricula as well as the school medical program. one of his more popular classes had had students is out collecting fossils and comparing the specimen they found with bones of other species as a means of identifying their discovery. dart encouraged students to collect fossil curiosity -- being used as a paper weight on the director's desk at the and could say it was a some sort primate and deemer evolutionary. so she asked collector where her professor rt da could take a
look at it. dart assessment of the fossil that it was indeed a very old -- or extinct species of baboon finding was extremely tremendous for rt da an his students meant that others could be part of the south african fossil record. interested in human brain, dart was keen to collect specimen that could shed light on early evolution of primate brain and asked to finds fossil with a small reward to any worker who procured interest in specimen. the director of northern lime company mr. ae sears himself and amateur enthusiast disagreed to stockpile although declined offer on part of his workers which i just found crazy. that's the director of the works mystery eg is about collecting
more interesting fossils from minds thanks to richmond was found that fall. in october of 1974 received a crate a fossil the day he and his wife were to host a wed with dart the best man. upon o arrival dart's wife was less than impressed. in his autobiography dart described her reaction. i suppose those ares to sills you've been expecting. why on earth did they have to arrive today of all days? now guests are going to be arriving shortly and you can't delve into that rival until everyone is left. i know but please leave them until tomorrow. concerns about guests and rt da immediately starts rummaging throughs fossil in full attire and comes across as small
priermt brain that stopped him cold. so this is a coif of what dart is finding in that crate in the get up. so enthrappled that wedding party had to drag him down to the ceremony where a rather put out groom expectly waited for duties as beg man and recalled these pleasant daydreams were interrupted bit bridegroom himself tugging at my sleeves my god ray he said struggling to keep the >> city out of his voice you have to address immediately or i have to find another best man, they'll be here any minute. replace rocks in boxes that i carry and the stone from which he had come along with me and locked them away with me in my wardrobe. in order to remove fossils took several pair of his wife needles to have picks necessary to get the rock away from thes fossil o
used ever pair moment to chip away matrix from skull and two days before krems base of a child emerged from the rock. dart doubted there was any parent prouder of offspring and that christmas of 1924, it was immediately the child raymond fossil, so i wanted to -- i wanted to share these couple of stories about this fossil. >> they're not just static object in museums that we sort of walk by. but there's things that have stories permingts to that end the certain select that surrounds them so i wanted to put up a couple of pictures yep -- should have advance to that earlier so this over here, over to the left -- we do have professor phillip tobias doing his demonstration
with the tom child not animated but you can use your imagination to picture the little jaw and skull going together there. on the right is the fossil itself, and here we have a set of image it is that i found in my or archive work in johan necessary book so scientist is raymond dart and you can see him in full scientific get up with a starch laboratory coat with a microscope, the fourth -- fourth picture in the series that had is in the book smoking the pipe so it is sort of this character of a scientist, and he's dart is very much trying to sort of present himself as this -- as this -- very eminent scientist. and he's eminent scientist his fossil is important so it has creating this whole visual picture that i thought was really interesting. this is a photo of the box so when i was talking about tobias
sort of ohming up the box all of that kind of good stuff. that is the box itself. it actually has its own catalog and museum number. right next to the fossil it is the only piece of sort of cultural artifact or cultural -- that is part of the -- or fossil involved at the university -- and you can see that three parts that are sorts of in there in the little foam of the tom child fossil. but the tom child is one of seven that i wrote about that i researched. and so i wanted o diswrows just quickly throw out other six so you can see what other fossil kind of followed this, pat pattern of celebrity and this does -- so on upper left this is the tote down fossil a couple of pieces of craneia mandible
fragment for 40 years considered most important fossil in angt anthropology and discovered it is not really a fossil or real thing. and it is now the loggest perpetrated hoax in the entire history of science. and i'm not sure quite if they'll take a bow about that or not but it is longest perpetrated hoax. over here we have a fossil from china, it was discovered in the 1930s. it was discovered in the late 1920s excavated copied in the 1930s. and then when beijing or invaded fossils were shipped the for fear of being destroyed when fossils were shipped out disappeared never been seen again so this falcon kind of film take on missings to sill an
what that means in the history of science. over here, we have the old man of lashpel a copy of it up here so definitely afterwards feel free to kind of produce produce we have a copy up here. and a i was interested in researching about the old man of lashpel because neanderthal carry in so much character. they carry so much culture and we were sort of with the question if i kale you neanderthal such a negative conotation but these are really sophisticated this is a really sophisticated species. so how does that change? and so that was part of what wanted to research about the old man of lashpe i see we have lucy over here. the tom child that we talked about and back there on the cover of science magazine, so
she was discovered in 2008 in south africa by a professor lee burger actually his son tripped over fossil. which is another great origin story for a fossil, and so he's been on cover of science magazine three times which is unrepeated in any discipline any scientific dispin no one and no scientist has had their research on the coffer of science more than lee burger has with fossil. and so i was interested in exploring this fossil how does it -- this is a fossil that came of age in social media it has its own twitter handle. it has its, you know, publicity marketing and sort of well what does that mean for our fossil to be famousesome does that take -- up just to throw out how absolutely permeating oh, i forgot the seventh one there.
have flow or -- [inaudible conversations] also known as hobbit popularly e i see lots of folks nodding that's awesome. so -- three kinds of people and low and behold there's a short sort of three-foot tall hobbity looking fossil that comes out of indonesia so i found that it was this really interesting mix of science meeting popular culture almost, almost simultaneously. we also have 2001, odyssey a t-shirt with lucy print on it that says i love lucy. i'm not ashamed to admit that i have this t-shirt i wear this t-shirt. [laughter] we have as i said 2001, we have = for fire for colt classics there are complengt. okay.
we definitely have some neanderthal enthusiast that was fantastic i had to convince my husband to watch quest for fire with me and i think he was done with the movie when we were done with that holy cow. [laughter] so lots of way withs they pop up for pop culture favorite one is hawaii 50 wide ties still to dialogue the qhoat 9 yards with that. they actually run an episode looking for missing fossil from china so again i sort of -- have this as sort of humorous, funny but to also show is that ?oisk san francisco discovery and what we take away from science really permeates in a lot of ways popular culture. so -- maybe we should talk about celebrity science and definitely we have time to keep your questions and if i hope you guys
have lots of questions about famous fossils all of that good stuff. >> i wanted to start out by talking a little bit about science and idea that things are always object i have in science and one of the things that your book highlights is that science is actually very subjective and in a very human endeavor so i was wonder if you can talk a little bit about how the identity of some of these fossils is driven by the subjectivity of the discoveriers and folks that are ploaght these fossils. >> i think that that's one-of-the- things as you point out that really i feel like permeates the book is sort of look at the social process of science. that science, you know, is whether we're sort of trying to learn how old the fossil is. what it -- what kind of environment it lived it in all of these things are -- very much done in sort of this social context these are scientist, graduate students an people going about the business of doing that and their decisions and that's having efnghts effects on how fossils are understood and how they're
received and as you say sort of shape the the social context for them. one of the things that was most interesting for me to find out about this sort of relationship between science and celebrity was when i was researching the fossil lucy which is -- one of the most well known fossils, and i found out that actually three weeks after lucy was discovered less than three weeks after lucy was discovered that discoverier dr. donald held first press conference to introduce this amazing fossil i had no idea that that soon after the fossil was discovered that there was this sort of wanting to appeal to -- 79s to appeal to sort of public audiences that this was a fossil to be great at that point lucy gets her name and introduced to the -- general public. and a to fossil enthusiasts at this press conference as lucy. so before she even gets her scientific name before there's any kind of scientific study that is done about her she's
lucy and i was really fascinated that that could sort of carry her for 30 years now know lucy even if you tngt know what her scientific name was or what she ate or what had you know how long ago she lived. people could still feel like they knew that i thought that was a really powerful thing to exlore. >> i wanted to return to the point that you made a few minutes ago. i was telling my students when they take my human evolution class if i call you knee andser that will i'm not insulting you. in our circle that is a compliment wondering if you can talk a little bit about why it was be a compliment for me to call you that. >> made my day here. [laughter] right so when they were first discovered in 1856, they were discovered in the valley in germany where the name comes from. and scientists didn't really know what to make of it. it sort of looked like this funky looking human.
it looked leak a human that wasn't quite right that it sort of well you know, it is kind of thick, skull is kind of squished down got these brows, right -- got these -- giant brows. it really just nobody knew exactly what to really think of, make of it. and so all of the intreptions interpretation that it was a human, species that would be incapable of complex thought. it was hey this is the species that couldn't even make it out of the -- this is species that went extinct how smart could the species really be? and so for a long time that that sort of -- idea really dominated people thought about about neanderthal and last several decades as it has come out archaeologists have revised their talk that wait a
minute, they bury their dead they have sophisticated hunt hadding and complex thought. they have speech, they have -- all of these characterizes that for decades scientists thought those are things that only belong to home homo sapien and piengdzing finding them to humanize neanderthals that wait a minute we're not -- not quite to splat separate as we thought we were. so rewriting of that had public image it is not just for fire anymore that we're trying to sort of understand -- neanderthal this is a more human or -- more neanderthal way and to take them on their own term i think is contributed to understanding the neanderthals differently now. i wanted to talk about the tom child and raymond dart announced
there was resistance to accepting this as early human, and i wanted to know, what did and what role did race and racism play on the acceptance of this. >> let me just jump back a slide here so that we've got a couple of pictures to go request that. so when the tom child was found in 1924 the middle one there. the fossils that really -- that really had captivates the scientific chungt the one that everybody cared about was the profound fossil so this scrappy part up there -- that was the fossil that the scientific community out of london i want to excise it was out of london and the european are ?ik scientific circle the reason they cared about it so much is when they reconstructed it sort of put it together to mac it look like a complete skull. scientists thought that this was a -- this was a fossil that had a big brain.
so it must have had complex cultural they thought it was sold so this is oldest modern human in yiewrm, of course, it is going to be in britain where else their legacy of u human civilization all of that kind of goods stuff. and so in some ways tilt down was exactly the kind of fossil scientists expected to see. and it was exactly the kind of fossil that they found so because it was -- looking back exactly what you expected to find so it is really hard to change something when it is so perfectly fit the scientific paradigm so when dart found the tom child, it was -- even for accounting for you know it being a juvenile it had had a small brain and walk on two legs from south africa so it didn't really have any of the scientific characteristics that people thought ought to -- awghtd to be earliest kind of
human ancestor so finding uphill battle and it really wasn't with until additional fossils who were found in south africa to really bolster and say this is not so funky monkey that -- we found in south africa. this is a -- human ancestor, this is a fossil that has a lot of other -- other this is a species that has a lot of fossils. that that really took hold and wasn't until 1953 when tilt down was debunked finally. tilt down out finally scientific community is open to other fossils that had been floating around for decades prior to that. so i think it is a combination of stuff. but yeah, definitely tilt down has become the rallying cry sort of hey, let's be really sure and really careful that weir not sort of seeing what we want to see in the data. >> you mentioned the popular depiction of early humans and,
of course, one of the most familiar to a lot of us is of a certain age in 2001, and the ohming scene one of the, you know, famous scenes of the early humans around this mysterious -- is actually a depiction of a high hypothesis known as killer eight put ford in the 20th century how does this compare with the u view that they were at the mercy of their environment and that you know they -- they were kind of living in this harsh place and trying to survive and get by. >> yeah, so certainly when dart discovered that tom child and at the scene which was actually the basis for 2001, there's sol great correspondents between dart of all people he's asking dart about his, you know, his research, and his research about, you know, sort of this early bloody, you know, idea of humanity this origin for
humanity. so dart has this sense that humanity is origin is very violent, very troubled. very much this sort of killer ape idea. and for a while it definitely was, it was sort of in circles to think about history. that way, however dart really held on this hypothesis was larger than other anthropologist so it was prevalent in late 140s through 1950s and by the 1960s anthropologists are saying you know this is a small -- this is a really small creature that is living in a really are what are had issue environment and so there are leopards and eagles and there are lots this is not an easy way to be -- not a top predator and so at that point the hunter sorts of becomes hunted at that point. although dart definitely hang hads on to this, this idea for
longer than most anthropologist but it is one of the fossils that forced this question into the public's mind. >> absolutely. >> okay we have a few minutes left and like to open it up to the audience, we had look to ask if you could please keep your questions short so we can get as many of them in and i will try to repeat the questions that everybody can hear, and we'll turn it over it to you. >> yeah. [inaudible conversations] >> have they ever discovered the reason for the tom child's death? and just being reminded from back here yes and from up here as well that there's a microphone for projection but you've got your questions reasons for tom child death which is awesome question is really fun. so for a long time, scientists thought thatted it actually been eaten by a leopard. so in the -- in the fossil there are actually little puncture marks up in
orbit of the eye, and so scientists thought that leopards could match it to like two sparks and then about five or seven years ago, there was another study that was done and actually match eying. talon much better so the current, current sort of best guest how he met his demise is that he was carried off by an eagle that it is -- those small little home so yeah eagle -- yeah. >> you said tom child was -- how old is that? how many what sort of is what the date range for that scene? >> so tom child is dated to about three and a half million years ootion. the species has sort of a wide with range. and lower range goes up to abou4 million. i think --
is sort of best estimate and again sort of the the very narrow windows are always changing but if you think three to 3.5 million years old that's a pretty good bet. so yeah. life is rough three and a half million years ago. >> and neanderthals did they come out of africa? >> so they are a really interesting -- fossil species because they're one of the only ones that are specific to europe, and into the the eastern part of asia sort of as far east as uzbek san, and nee p neanderthals are 300,000 years to about they went extinct 27 to 30,000 years ago so fairly recently but geographically weapon don't find they will in africa farthest south is middle east. >> was that their origin? >> yep. they are specific to europe and asia. that's interesting.
>> i thought -- >> i think i see your question a little bit better so we do have species that are ancestral to both modern human and neanderthal like tom child and other species and we see those coming out of africa so we don't see -- but it takes several million years, it takes a lot of environmental changes and a you feel that kind of good stuff but specifically this species is -- is in europe asia, eastern apartment western parts of asia. but earlier ancestors we would see come out of africa but that's a really good question. complicated way to answer it too. yes. >> can you describe your experience in iran? >> sure. sure. so i was actually there as a member of the american alpine club rock climbing team i spent there on exchange program and as
part of that, i was excited to have the opportunity to visit different archaeological site, different pail l yo site places that would be hard visit without that kind of visa or kind of access and so parts of that have definitely contradicted to research that i've done in sort of nationalism and national symbolism of fossils particularly for neanderthal and other fossils that have come out of iran. but there's not anything sadly that pops up in seven skeletons for that research. but it's definitely informed other projectses that i've done. question in the back. how often do you find like eye, tongues, and how does that change how you look at the bones that are found with it? >> that's a really awesome question. actually -- and it is such a broad question that i'm trying to think how to
give you a good answer. so the short answer is most of the soft tissue doesn't fossilize that it is just not conducive. it withers, it rots it does all of these authorities of soft tissue kinds of thing when is a bone becomes fossil the mineral content is being replaced right exactly. and so what is so unique about the tom child is that there is this fossilize passenger side brain case, and it is actually the only one of its kind and so in some ways that's part i think of raymond darts up hill battle also that you have this fossil that nobody knows how to make any sense of in any stretch of the imagination but other than that, i'm trying to think of other examples of soft tissue. >> not soflt tissue the fact that bone is preserved is a miracle in itself. really the fact that we have as many fossils as we to is that result of the perfect circumstances.
maybe happened to be a volcanic eruption and then rain another eruption that put another lay or of ash down that preserved it. you have to have those levels of circumstances i think that -- about you know we had had a recent find maybe i think in 2002 where they found the bone in the throat they hit the the scene related to lucy it is this little tiny thin bone that tells us about speech and way that sounds were made and that in itself was a miracle. so -- >> we just looked at what are had the odds and so -- it is really amazing to see that. and another question that i get a lot of is how many neanderthals do question of sort of in the fossil record and it is just over 400. so in some ways not a lot of but it is really this amazing set of corks for fossils to be able to preserve.
other questions. >> i've read something recently i don't remember if it was in science or something else that there's apparently some dna evidence that there's actually some cross species things going on between knee neanderthal and humans and how that happened indeed if they might be even i don't know if i got this correct or not but -- relic or fossil evidence that neanderthals might be might have been responsible for survival of the migrated up from africa into central europe can you talk about that a little bit. >> that's an awesome question such a great complex question at the same time. so i'll preface by saying if yowpght to drill down into the specifics for genetics i would suggest checking out the blog of john hawks who is a
paleoanthropologist with great posts on this specific question that you're asking is. but back to your genetic there's evidence for human and neanderthals cross breeding, that there's a lot of overlap all of that kind of good stuff. but sort of as to how exactly those genetic traits trace into populations whether it is other species whether it is other -- >> we've got that now. [laughter] >> does everybody save? >> the library crosses in 15 minutes. okay. sorry i couldn't quite bring myself to talk over that. but it gave me another moment to gather my thoughts so actually
this really awesome opportunity. but to answer your question this is sort of one of the hot topic in research so a lot of what is being published first take on what these kind of genetic populations would look like where they would go and mean for sort of story of human evolution. i think if you were to ask that question in a year or in five years that i would have more interesting stuff to be a able to tell you but it is less than five years ago so a lot this is really new. [inaudible conversations] yes. >> i just to wrap up, we were mentioning that we were discuss ising whether or not we were going to get our dna test because we want to know how much neanderthal we have in us. >> so there's that. yeah, exactly. [laughter] lots of enthusiast that's great. so again i wanted to say thank
you all so much for coming to talk fossils so -- fantastic. thank you very much. thank you to lidia. thank you to you for being here and encourage you to stop by barnes & noble signing tent out there momentarily of 3d precinct and check out cats we have those to check them out. [inaudible conversations]