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QRC 50th Anniversary Speaker Series | Katerina Douka
QRC 50th Anniversary Speaker Series | Katerina Douka
WhenFriday, Oct 25, 2019, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Campus locationDenny Hall (DEN)
Campus roomRoom 313
Event typesLectures/Seminars

Talk Title: How recent developments in chronometric (radiocarbon) dating have transformed the study of late human evolution

Human fossils discovered in the past decade, as well as sequencing of ancient genomes, have transformed our knowledge of important evolutionary processes surrounding members of Homo sp., including the complex relationships amongst archaic (Neanderthals, Denisovans) and early modern human groups that lived in Eurasia over the last 200,000 years. Yet the significance of these findings is often muddled by the lack of reliable chronologies regarding to when (and where) hominin groups met and interacted.

In this talk, I will describe our efforts to develop and apply new tools for constructing reliable chronologies for the Late Pleistocene, focusing on radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statistical modeling. Such tools were applied in defining the timing of Neanderthal extinction in Europe (Higham, Douka et al. 2014; Nature), as well as the age of the Denisovans in Siberia (Douka et al. 2019; Nature), the mysterious group of humans whose remains have only been identified in northern Asia, but whose genetic contribution reaches the indigenous populations of Papua New Guinea, Australia and Japan.

Katerina Douka is Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany and Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded FINDER project. Prior to joining the Max Planck in 2017, Katerina studied (2005-2011) and worked (2011-2017) at the University of Oxford, UK, where she is also a Research Associate. Her work focuses on the development of large-scale chronologies, mostly using radiocarbon dating near the working limit of the method. In the past two years her work also includes palaeoproteomic approaches. She has worked on over 100 sites across Eurasia and Africa.

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