Adaptive Divergence in the Pleistocene: The Evolution of Homo and Paranthropus


May. 2, 2022, 11:30am to 12:30pm

Office/Remote Location



Please join us in this UNLV Anthropology Talk, given by Dr. Brian Villmoare. Dr. Villmoare is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UNLV. Audience members can attend in-person (in CBC C120) or register to attend online.

Although human evolution is often presented as a steady progression towards anatomical modernity over the last 6-7 million years, the actual fossil records presents us with multiple and dramatically different versions of what it means to be ‘human’. One of the most interesting and important expressions of this pattern occurred some 2.5-3.0 million years ago with the appearance of two divergent genera: Homo and Paranthropus.

Here Dr. Villmore describes parallel tracks of research that help us understand why natural selection would generate two adaptively distinct, yet highly successful forms of Pleistocene hominin. Recent fossil discoveries have helped us identify the time, place and circumstance of this divergence, and I describe recent discoveries in the Afar region of Ethiopia. However, laboratory research on the patterns of evolutionary interdependence of craniofacial anatomy is also critical for helping us understand how these two forms were able to evolve under the selection pressures of the early Pleistocene. 

Admission Information

Open to all members of the broader UNLV community.

External Sponsor

Department of Anthropology