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Paleoanthropologist Peter Brown to Open Forum Series Lectures at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Sept. 12, 2005

Peter BrownEAU CLAIRE — Paleoanthropologist Peter Brown, leader of a team that recently discovered a hobbit-like human ancestor on a remote Indonesian island, will open the 64th season of The Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Tuesday, Sept. 27. The presentation, titled "A Revolution in Evolution: Rewriting Evolutionary History," will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

In October 2004 Brown announced the discovery of an extinct dwarf human species that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores. The discovery of a species of human completely new to science has been called "one of the most startling paleoanthropological revelations in living memory" (Scientific American).

Living on Flores from about 95,000 years ago until as recently as 13,000 years ago, the diminutive creatures used primitive tools and hunted a now-extinct species of dwarf elephant. According to Brown, his team's discovery has major repercussions for our understanding of human evolution, touching on aspects of human migration, our interaction with the environment, and the locus of early human development. Prior to this discovery, it was believed that humans of this stature and brain size last walked the earth three to four million years ago in Africa.

"Finding these hominins on an isolated island in Asia, and with elements of modern human behavior in tool making and hunting, is truly remarkable and could not have been predicted by previous discoveries," Brown said. "Homo floresiensis is an addition to the short list of other human species that lived at the same time as modern humans. I think people will be surprised to learn that not so long ago, we were not alone."

Brown and his team hope to expand on this discovery to shed further light on human evolution, particularly in Southeast Asia.

A paleoanthropologist at the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia, Peter Brown is an engaging speaker who puts his work in the context of the popular understanding of human evolution. Brown's program is accompanied by visuals that show the steps he and his colleagues took to understand, visualize and reconstruct the physical make-up and social lives of the little people.

The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception. The program will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Tickets are $7 for the public, $5 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $3 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the Service Center counter in the east lobby of Davies Center and also will be sold at the door. The Service Center is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support to The Forum. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites Eau Claire (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for The Forum.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, The Forum is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/NW

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