Evolution: where do we go from here?

Monday, 1 December 1997

World experts on human evolution have converged on the University of Adelaide to discuss the future of life as we know it.

The 5th World Academic Conference on Human Ecology, being held at the University's Medical School from December 1-5, is headlined: 'Is Human Evolution a Closed Chapter?'

More than 120 delegates from 20 countries around the world will discuss issues such as changing body and brain sizes, changing patterns of human disease, and what the future holds for the human race.

The conference convenor is the head of the University's Department of Anatomical Sciences, Professor Maciej Henneberg, whose own research work deals with the ongoing evolution of the human race.

"There is very little agreement among academics on human evolution, except that it occurred. And there are those people still in this world who disagree that human evolution occurred," he says.

"In this conference we want first of all to set the evolutionary scene, to look at what is happening today in terms of people's biological variation, response to diseases, and their bodily growth and development.

"Then we want to try to chart the future of humankind, which is why the conference asks the question: 'Is human evolution a closed chapter?' Has it stopped? Or is it going to continue? And if so, in which direction? There's no easy answer to all this, and so we are getting together at this conference to see if we can come up with an answer.

"These are very important and fundamental questions we're asking about the human race-where did we come from, why are we the way we are now, and where are we going?"


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