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International Primatology Lecture 13 | Prof. Xijun Ni
The 13th speaker in our lecture series will be Prof. Xijun Ni, who is a paleoanthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Prof. Ni will present a talk titled "From Archie Boy to Dragon Man: My research experience in tracing the wonder path of human evolution" to share his stories of, and reflections on, studying fossil primates.
Prof. Ni has studied an exceptional array of fossils to develop his hypothesis about human origins. In his lecture, he will discuss the oldest-known primate skeleton, the most diverse Oligocene primate fauna outside of Africa, and one of the most completely preserved archaic human skulls discovered in China, dubbed the "Dragon Man". Studies indicate that the ancestor of primates was active during daytime and that the initial divergence of anthropoids could have occurred 56 million years ago. The evolutionary center of anthropoids switched to Africa from Asia, probably because of the dramatic climate change about 34 million years ago. The discovery of Dragon Man suggests that the sister group of Homo sapiens is not Neanderthals, but an archaic human group mainly living in Asia.
About the speaker: Prof. Xinjun Ni received his Ph.D. in ecology from the Beijing Normal University. He was recruited into the Hundred-Talent Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and was appointed Distinguished Research Professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research theorized the timing of the anthropoid origin, generated the primate diurnal-origin hypothesis, and revealed the “evolutionary filter” effects of the Eocene–Oligocene transition, which caused the punctuated evolution of stem and crown anthropoids in Asia. In recent years, his team has focused on studying the phylogenetic evolution of hominins and the physical anthropological evidence for the cultural development of pre-agricultural populations in Northeastern China.