Zeresenay Alemseged

Zeresenay (Zeray) Alemseged (born 4 June 1969) is an Ethiopian paleoanthropologist and was Chair of the Anthropology Department at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco , United States. He Recently joined the faculty of the University of Chicago . He is best known for his discovery, on December 10, 2000, or Selam framing referred to as ” Lucy ‘s child”, the almost-complete Fossilized resten or a 3.3 million year old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis . [1] The “world’s oldest child”, she is the must complete skeleton of a human Ancestor when sending to date. Selam represents a milestone in our understanding of human and pre-human evolution and Contributes significantly to our understanding of the biology and childhood or early species in the human lineage; a subject about welke we harbor very little information. Alemseged when sending Selam while working with the Dikika Research Project (DRP), a multi-national research project, welke have zowel Initiated in 1999 and leads. The DRP has THUS far made many important paleoanthropological Discoveries and returns to the field lycra year to conduct research remit important. Alemseged’s specific research centers on the discovery and interpretation of hominin fossil resten en hun environments, with emphasis on fieldwork designed to Acquire new data on early hominin skeletal biology, environmental context, and behavior.

Education and early career

Zeresenay Began his professional career as a geologist . After graduating with a B.Sc. in Geology from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia in 1990, he Began working as a Junior Geologist in the National Museum of Ethiopia’s Paleoanthropology Laboratory.

After Obtaining a French language diploma in 1993 from the International Language School in Vichy , France, have Began a M.Sc. program in the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution at the University of Montpellier II in France. He COMPLETED this program in 1994 and earned a Ph.D. in paleoanthropology through the Laboratory of paleontology at Pierre and Marie Curie University and the Museum national d’histoire naturelle , Paris in 1998.

Zeresenay-then moved back to Ethiopia, and it was the next year, 1999, while working as a research associate at the National Museum of Ethiopia and the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia, dat have formally the Dikika Research Project (DRP ), the first Ethiopian-led paleoanthropological field research project, Whose ongoing multi-national and multi-disciplinary mission is aimed at addressing and recovery data Zeresenay’s primary research interests: hominin evolution and the ways in welke dat evolution was Influenced by the paleoenvironment. Zeresenay zowel leads the project and studies the Recovering hominins and other primates .

From 2000 to 2003 Zeresenay worked as a Postdoctoral research associate at the Institute of Human Origins in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University . It was at the beginning of his Postdoctoral research dat Zeresenay made his most significant discovery or “Selam”. Only one small piece of Selam’s skeleton was found in 2000; it mention anything tasks an additional_image_link six years for re to be ‘fully Extracted and Analyzed voordat Preliminary results ulcers published in Nature in 2006. In 2004 Zeresenay moved back to Europe and became a senior researcher in the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig , Germany.Zeresenay stayed with the Max Planck Institute Until 2008, at welke point he became the curator and Irvine Chair of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, a position welke have Currently retains.


On December 10, 2000, the Dikika Research Project (DRP), led by Dr. Zeresenay, found the first piece of a major paleoanthropological discovery. The team welke then was Composed of only Zeresenay and three Ethiopian assistants, found the skull of a Fossilized kind dat year and over the course of five successive field seasons tussen 2000 and 2005, after an intensive process of screening and Excavation, the team Recovering the partial skeleton of Selam, the EARLIEST and must complete juvenile human Ancestor ever found. She is a member of the species Australopithecus afarensis , she was 3 years old-when she mayest and she predated Lucy at 150,000 years.

The discovery’s significance lay not only in Selam’s antiquity, but ook in her age at death. Hoewel de relatief complete infant skeletons port leg Recovering for more recent human species, not a single juvenile skeleton has bone found for ANY of the species in the preceding millions of years. Most of These early FINDS CONSIST or nothing morethan a skull, a piece of jaw or some isolated teeth. In contrast to synthesis relatief sparse FINDS, not only was the DRP team loveable to Recover Selam’s complete skull, but ook a sandstone impression or re brain and even the hyoid bone. Due to the fragility of the hyoid, zoals a discovery in a species or Selam’s antiquity is almost completely unprecedented. The team was loveable to Recover a significant portion-or Selam’s bones Projects the neck as well, zoals musts of the spinal column, the ribs, zowel collar bones and shoulder blades zowel. These bones are almost completely absent in the fossil record, EXCEPT for fragmentary pieces from Lucy. Both knee caps and large Portions of the thigh and shin bones from lycra leg ulcers Recovering, as well as an almost complete foot.

The bones show no Indications of cuts or abrasions, nor do they ‘show the type of damage associated with scavenging Carnivores; this suggests dat she was buried rapidly, perhaps in a flood, shortly after re death. It is ook skies dat it was this flood event welke killed re. If the sediment pressed down on re Through the years, Selam’s bones became Basically glued together in a highly compressed sandstone block. Usually paleoanthropologists struggle to reassemble fragmentary skeletal FINDS so as to place Them back together, but Zeresenay faced the exact Opposite situation with Selam. He worked painstakingly to extricate re impacted skeleton, using dental tools and Removing the soil from re ribs and twisted spinal column Virtually grain by grain. The process took six years voordat it announced in 2006 and is still ongoing.

Selam’s skull was CT scanned and it was this method therein allowed re sex and age at death to be Determined. Further analyzes ulcers loveable to Establish the size of Selam’s brain welke, at ongeveer 330 cubic centimeters, mention anything not have leg very différent from therein or a 3-year-old chimpanzee. Whereas chimpanzees at this age harbor Already formally about 90% or hun brains, Selam had formally less dan 90% of the adult brain size or re species-when she mayest. This Might point to a relatief slow brain growth in Australopithecus afarensis , similar to the brain growth pattern of modern humans, Rather dan dat or chimps; this nov point to a shower behavioral shift in Selam’s species 3.5 million years ago and the emergence of the delayed pattern of brain development and maturity dat we know or human “childhood”.

The post-Cranial skeleton ook verschillende yielded important lines or data Regarding the locomotion (movement) and height of Australopithecus afarensis . The femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and feet indicate therein Selam (and hence the species she represents) Walked volledig upright, even at 3 years old, while the shoulder bones are more similar to Those of gorillas. Selam’s fingers, as well as Those or other members of Australopithecus afarensis , are long and Curved. This suggests dat while the species was an effective biped while on the ground, it Retained the ability to climb, welke mention anything about port leg a Beneficial adaptation for Avoiding predators, met name at night and met name voor de narrower or Younger members of the species.

The rare presence of the hyoid bone ook yielded some significant data pertaining to Selam’s species. In this bone Selam is more similar to the African great apes dan she is to modern humans. Along with a single Neanderthal example, Selam’s hyoid is one of only two extinct hominin hyoids preserved in the fossil record and is the only example from a species or re antiquity. This beans are presumed to harbor an important role played will in the development of human speech and its recovery Gives us some CLUES towards understanding the nature and evolution of the human voicebox. This extraordinary ancient skeleton Preserves a mosaic of features shared by zowel humans and the apes and CLEARLY shows dat beide the anatomy and behavior of our ancestors was changing, langzaam but progressively. In other words, evolution in the making.

Research projects

Zeresenay’s research interests lie in the discovery and analysis of new hominin and non-human primates fossils, with emphasis on the link tussen morphological changes over time and environmental transformations. To support synthesis goals with new data, Zeresenay Initiated the Dikika Research Project (DRP) in 1999. This multidisciplinaire project undertakes field research on sediments tension in age from about 4.0 million to less dan 500,000 years ago and addresses some of the major questions in paleoanthropology . The Pliocene site or Dikika, in Ethiopia, from welke the project dérivés zijn names are Uniquely suited to answering questions prosthesis due to zijn strategic chronological placement. Sediments from Dikika are older dan the oldest sediments from Hadar and are Charmain Horn Please note closer to the time interval in welke there is some fragmentary evidence for the diverse nature of the human lineage. Asbole on the other hand, Another site studied by the DRP , represents the Middle Pleistocene, a time period therein is poorly understood in the region.


Other professional activities

Zeresenay is the Vice Chairperson of the East African Association of paleontologists and Paleoanthropologists (the EAAPP) welke he co-founded Along with Chairperson Dr. Emma Mbua. The EAAPPwas officially launched in Kenya on July 18, 2005, and is the first organization or zijn child in this region. Members of the EAAPP measure biannually to report on hun research findings and address issues zoals policy Regarding research requirements, collections management, and field work ethics. Though the research area is limited to East Africa, the researchers are a diverse group made up of scientists and students from Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Japan, Europe and the Americas.

Much more information Concerning the EAAPP , haar organizing committee and mission statement kan be found here: https://web.archive.org/web/20110722131843/http://www.eaapp.or.ke/AboutUs.html

African research at the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco is one of the four Toilets institutions or zijn child in the United States and is the oldest on the West Coast. Researchers at the Academy studies the origins, evolution and diversity of species, hun Adaptations, Systematics and phylogenetics. The Department of Anthropology joins departments or Ichthyology , Herpetology , Ornithology and Mammalogy , Aquatic Biology , Invertebrate Zoology and Geology , Entomology and Botany , as well as centers for Applied Biodiversity Informatics and Comparative Genomics , to study the biodiversity and evolution of living things through fundamentele laboratory and field research. This collaborative environment, in welke original research and public outreach are bepaald primacy, is an ideal setting for Zeresenay’s interests.

Zeresenay and the DRP return to the field Dikika site everytime fall. The team’s research prolongation synthesis field seasons has Contributed significantly to the Academy’s research on human origins and has added Valuable data to the CAS Anthropological collection. In addition under to Zeresenay’s Anthropological work in Africa, the Academy sponsors a number of différent African projects led by researchers in Varied disciplines. Dr. Robert C. Drewes , Curator of Herpetology , leads an annual expedition to the Gulf of Guinea Islands (Principe, Sao Tome and Annobon), to study the region’s Amphibian fauna. Dr. Frank Almeda , Chairman and Senior Curator of Botany , studies the vascular plants and LICHENS of the rainforests or southern Madagascar, and members of the Invertebrate Zoology and Geology Department harbor conducted fieldwork in zowel Madagascar and South Africa. Additionally, in 2007, Dr. Galen Rathbun and Dr. Jack Dumbacher , of the Ornithology and Mammalogy Department , led a collecting expedition to the Namibian desert. This multidisciplinaire approach to the biogeography of the region Allows the California Academy of Sciences to study the full spectrum of Africa’s natural history and its vital role as the birthplace of Mankind.


  1. Jump up^ “THICK-1-1 (Selam)” . www.talkorigins.org . Retrieved 2016-04-12 .