Local fossil experts urge for more young South African palaeontologists.

Posted on August 16, 2011


A short article written after I attended a series of media conference lectures on evolution at Iziko Museum beginning of 2010 – an event prompted by the finding of a fossil skeleton in the Karoo Bowl- proving to be a missing link in the story of human evolution… =)

‘I have a dream,’ said Dr Francis Thackeray, director at the Institute of Human Evolution at Wits University, last Wednesday. ‘It is to implement posters of famous historical South African fossil findings, such as Mrs. Ples, in schools all over the country.’
Dr Francis Thackeray was one of the lecturers at ‘The Story of Life’ media round table conference held at the Iziko Museum last week.
The lecture was a part of the Palaeo-sciences week that ran from 21st to the 24th April. This event was inspired by the recent human fossil findings of Prof. Lee Berger in the Karoo bowl.
‘I’ve been trying to generate an interest in science amongst the youth since 1994,’ said Dr Thackeray of his work.
Thackeray has been head of Palaeontology at Transvaal Museum for many years, but believes his new position as director of the Institute of Human Evolution makes his dream now all the more possible.

Dr Francis Thackery looking super cool

He adds that he may soon be receiving financial support from the government to back him in his plans to make evolution-type education more available to the public.
Prof Francis Thackeray also made special mention of the fact that there is a need for more young palaeontologists in South Africa.
According to the scientists, it is ideal for aspiring palaeontologists to study both Life Science and Earth science at university. UCT also offers a specialized course on palaeontology. *

Meanwhile Prof. Anusuya Chinsamy- Turan, another lecturer at the same event, is capitalising on children’s interest in historic science. She refers to herself as ‘passionate about science and the communication of science’ and her children’s book titled Famous Dinosaurs of Africa is evidence of this. ‘We may not have the biggest dinosaurs, but we have the longest-necked!’  Prof. Chinsamy-Turan said of African Triassic evidence.

* Contact the NRF and the Paleontological Scientific Trust for bursary options

Buy Prof. Anusuya Chinsamy- Turan’s childrens book ‘Famous Dinosaurs of Africa’ here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/famous-dinosaurs-of-africa-with-poster-anusuya-chinsamy-turan/1015488018?ean=9781770075887&itm=7&usri=luis%2bv%2brey

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