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Anthropology Department
New York University
25 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10003

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Neanderthals Revisited

New Approaches and Perspectives

New York University, January 27-29, 2005

Although recent years have witnessed important scientific breakthroughs in the study of Neanderthals and their place in human evolution, there have been no recent forums on the subject that have allowed leading scholars to come together to exchange ideas and to compare the results of different methods and approaches. The many new exciting and important developments in the field, as well as the introduction of innovative techniques and technologies, have transformed our appreciation of Neanderthal paleobiology, adaptation to the environment, and evolutionary relationships. With this in mind, Katerina Harvati (Max Planck Institute) and Terry Harrison (New York University) organized a conference that provided an opportunity for leading scientists involved in all aspects of Neanderthal research to present their latest findings and to discuss the implications of these advances for understanding the evolutionary history of Neanderthals.

The ‘Neanderthals Revisited: New Approaches and Perspectives’ conference, held at New York University (January 27-29), focused on cutting-edge research on Neanderthal biology and evolution, and their interaction with modern humans. Leading scholars presented brief lectures on their latest research findings. Presentations were followed by an opportunity for discussion and Q&A (a list of participants is presented below, and the program of events is attached). Contributions re-evaluated Neanderthal and modern human anatomy, inferred Neanderthal adaptations and habitual activities, developmental patterns, phylogenetic relationships, and the reasons for the Neanderthal extinction. Presentations made reference to new methods, including computer tomography, 3D geometric morphometrics, experimental growth studies, genetic and paleogenetic analyses, as well as new perspectives, including dental analysis, cladistic methodologies, bioenergetics, and expanded comparative analyses. Contributors presented novel inferences from evolutionary theory to improve our understanding of Neanderthal-modern human interactions, critically re-evaluated the methodology and practice of systematics, and discussed new reconstructions of European paleoenvironments and their implications for Neanderthal extinction.

The conference, hosted by the Center for the Study of Human Origins at NYU and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, was held at New York University in January 2005. The two and a half day program included two days of presentations and discussions (January 27 and 28), and a half-day workshop (January 29). The first two days were open to the academic community and to the public, and no registration is necessary. The workshop on the last day was restricted to conference participants.

List of Participants and Discussants:

James Ahern, University of Wyoming
Susan Antón, New York University
Shara Bailey, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig
Markus Bastir, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Madrid
Emiliano Bruner, Università La Sapienza, Rome
Stephen Churchill, Duke University
Robert Franciscus, University of Iowa
Terry Harrison, New York Univeristy
Katerina Harvati, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig
John Hawks, University of Wisconsin
Trent Holliday, Tulane University
Jean-Jacques Hublin, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig
Giorgio Manzi, Università La Sapienza, Rome
Wes Niewoehner, California State University, San Bernardino
Osbjorn Pearson, University of New Mexico
Marcia Ponce de Leon, University of Zurich
Yoel Rak, University of Tel Aviv
Antonio Rosas, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Madrid
David Serre, McGill University, Montreal
Fred Smith, Loyola University
Mark Stoneking, Max Plank Institute, Leipzig
Chris Stringer, The Museum of Natural History, London
Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History
Jean-Luc Voisin, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Paris
Tim Weaver, Max Plank Institute, Leipzig
Milford Wolpoff, University of Michigan
Christoph Zollikofer, University of Zurich