The Raymond Dart Lecture with Professor Bernard Wood: ORIGINS

‘Origins’ research in palaeoanthropology mainly focuses on three origins problems. The origin of our own lineage, the origin of our own genus, Homo, and the origin of our own species, Homo sapiens.

 In each case researchers seek answers to three questions. When? Where? Why? This talk will explain why the search for reliable answers to these questions for the first two of these three origins problems is almost certainly doomed to failure. Most talks about human evolution focus on, and often oversell, what the fossil record can tell us. This talk will stress what we do not know, and will argue that, for progress to be made, it is important to understand that some research questions in human evolution may never be answered to our satisfaction. We need to learn how to live with an incomplete data set.

Professor Bernard Wood

bernard woodProfessor Bernard Wood is one of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists and is currently head of the Centre for the Advanced Study of Human Palaeobiology at George Washington University, USA in the Columbian College of Arts and Science.

Professor Wood’s research interests are all related in one way or another to a long-standing pre-occupation with hominin systematics. How can we improve our ability to recognize species in the fossil record, and how can we do a better job of reconstructing their evolutionary relationships?

At the beginning of his career Professor Wood was fortunate that Richard Leakey provided him with the opportunity to be involved with research on the famous Koobi Fora for a fossils from northern Kenya. His main contribution was not only the analysis of the fossil hominin cranial remains, but the opportunity to be part of the broader Koobi Fora Research Project provided invaluable exposure to the wide a range of disciplines that are needed to understand how landscapes and biota evolve.

WHEN: 5:30 – 7:30 19 May 2016 with networking drinks and canapes after the event

WHERE: “the Back Room” Brisbane Square Library


raymond dart

Professor Raymond Dart with the Taung Child, the fossilised skull of a young Australopithecus africanus. Professor Dart described it as a new species in the journal Nature in 1925.

Professor Raymond Dart

Born and raised in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong, Raymond Dart is one of Australia’s most celebrated palaeoanthropologist. Raymond is best known for his involvement in the 1924 South African discovery of the first fossil ever found of Australopithecus africanus, an extinct hominin closely related to humans.

With launch of the new Centre of Human Evolution at the Griffith University Nathan campus, the Raymond Dart Lecture will be an annual event paying homage to Raymond Dart by presenting some of the brightest minds and newest research in paleoanthropology.


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  1. Raymond Dart

    Is this lecture to be seen by webinar? As Raymond Dart’s nephew and named after him I would be interested in getting a print copy or email copy of the lecture as I am unable to attend the lecture

  2. Post author
    Damian Harris

    I will be recording the lecture and posting here in the next week or so. Thanks for your interest!

  3. Phil Trezise

    Thank you for the invitation to attend tonight’s Raymond Dart Lecture, it was both entertaining and informative. Professor Wood’s presentation was a brilliant example of scientific communication, accessible to non-specialists but still rigorous and full of healthy scientific skepticism. I was pleased to represent the Ipswich Grammar School science department and will be looking out for more lectures in the future.

  4. Lisa Dart

    Thank you for the invitation to attend last night’s Raymond Dart Lecturer. I too found it very entertaining and a fascinating subject matter. As a relative of Raymond it was also interesting to hear, and meet, people who had not only worked with him, but been inspired by his work and tenacity. Professor Bernard Wood is a wonderful speaker and great advocate for the importance of research and science in today’s world, as were all the speakers. I will be following these lecture series with interest. Congratulations to all involved.

    1. Post author
      Damian Harris

      Thanks Lisa for attending, it was really special to have some members of Raymond Dart’s family in attendance.
      Glad you enjoyed the evening.

    2. peter mcnally

      Hi I didnt hear the Raymond Dart lecture,, but were pleased that the Leigh Chamberland, Toowong Historical Society published my study of Raymond intheir historic records. ,, Especially that Dart & the University of Witwatersrand Johannesberg were denied the recognition they deserved for proving 2 major things,,Humans evolved from from apes,, & that we evolved from within Africa East..
      In essence the question many people have & will ask.. WHERE DID I COME FROM?
      The controvecy still remains today.. Did his compatriate Aussie born,, British Anthropologist Sir Grafton Smith,, & Sir Arthur Keith conspire to mislead the world establishment about their Piltdown Man.. Darts true believers Dr. Robert Bloom & Professor Philip Tobias fought hard & lobbied the scientific comunity to expose what became the biggest fraud/hoax in Anthropolological history…. Our McNally Family would be honoured if we ever had the opportunity to meetup for a Chat about our Raymond Dart. From our research Raymond should have been Knighted. can that be done. Alfred Wallace has been only recently been recognised for seriously helping Charles Darwin evaluate his research.
      Peter McNally & Family Brisbane.

  5. [email protected]

    I too am very much inspired by Brisbane born Raymond Dart& Prot’eg’e Sth African born Phillip Tobias.
    They worked tirelessly promoting the Taung Child as being the 1st Human Ancestor discovered.. & that Sth East Africa was the cradle of Humanity,, They challenged from their WitWatersrand Uni base..
    The supposed fountain of scientific evolution knowledge, of the mightiest empire of all time.. Great Britain.
    Raymond & Tobias & Co were later vindicated, when the Piltdown man was exposed & has almost certainly become,, The biggest fraud in Evolutionary science.
    Royal Society, 104 yrs later 10-08-2016 published their findings,

    We are privileged to have had our essay published on the Google,,, Toowong & District Historical Societies Raymond Dart website.
    Our latest essay is Australians & Australia in Human Evolution. peter mcnally inner n.w. Brisbane.

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