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Exhibit in Cabell Library marks significant discovery in anthropology

August 31, 2012

From left to right: Jim Coleman, Dean of the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences; the Honorable Ibrahim Rasool; John Ulmschneider, University Librarian; and Jim Moore, President of the VCU Friends of the Library

"Australopithecine!" (aw-stral-o-PITH-eh-seen), an exhibit on the first floor of James Branch Cabell Library, features facsimiles of fossils of a recently discovered species that anthropologists say could be a missing link between the genus Homo and the more ancient genus Australopithecus. 

The facsimile fossils on display make up the partial skeletons of two specimens of Australopithecus sediba (aw-stral-o-PITH-eh-cus seh-DI-ba), unearthed in 2008 at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa, and offer library visitors the rare opportunity of observing the differences between life two-million years ago and life in the present day. The exhibit will be open through December 18 before moving to the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

The exhibit is made possible through the generous loan of the facsimile fossils from the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa. In a visit to VCU on August 28, the Honorable Ibrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the United States, spoke about the importance of the discovery to his nation and to the world as a whole, suggesting that the successful advancement of civilization would not be possible without a deep understanding of the past. Dr. Noel Boaz of the VCU Anthropology Program said that the "Australopithecine!" exhibit was intended to showcase the ongoing developments in the study of hominid ancestry. More

The exhibit is supported by partnerships with the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa, the Virginia Museum of Natural HistoryIntegrative Centers for Science and Medicine and the International Institute for Human Evolutionary Research. It is cosponsored by the VCU Anthropology Program in the School of World Studies, the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences and VCU Libraries.

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