Wits saddened by Tobias' death

By Drum Digital
08 June 2012

The University of the Witwatersrand expressed sadness on Thursday at the news of leading South African palaeo-anthropologist Philip Tobias' death.

"A stalwart of the university and a world-renowned scientist, Professor Tobias passed away today [Thursday] in Johannesburg after a long illness," said spokeswoman Shirona Patel in a statement.

Tobias was the recipient of many awards and honours, including honorary degrees from the universities of Pennsylvania, Cambridge, California, Natal, Cape Town, Unisa, Durban-Westville, Western Ontario, Alta, Guelph, and the Witwatersrand.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Professor Tobias, and those him knew him well," Patel said.

Earlier Gauteng Tourism Authority spokesman Anthony Paton said Tobias, born on October 14, 1925, died at the Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre.

Tobias, who was the only person to hold three professorships simultaneously at the University of the Witwatersrand, was always known for being a friendly, outgoing man, eloquent and able to explain his science to anyone.

In 2002 Tobias had his own, popular, TV series, "Tobias' Bodies".

The series, presented and narrated by Tobias, consisted of six stand-alone episodes exploring different themes around genetics, anatomy and primatology.

He also successfully campaigned for the Sterkfontein Caves to be proclaimed a World Heritage site.

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