Wits hosts biggest gathering of SA fossil hunters

2014-07-07 10:47

Palaeontologists. (Shutterstock)

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The biggest gathering of professional and amateur palaeontologists in southern Africa will take place this coming weekend, 11 - 14 July 2014 at Wits University when the Paleontological Society of Southern Africa (PSSA) converges for their 18th Biennial Conference.

The highlight of the four-day meeting is a special public lecture to be presented by the esteemed Nasa scientist, Dr Kevin Hand, and presided over by Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor.

Hand is a renowned researcher in the field of astrobiology, and his talk is titled: Bringing Two Worlds Together: How Earth's Past and Present Help Us Search for Life on Other Planets.

The Conference is also open to the media.

The Conference attracts some of the greatest minds in palaeontology, and is funded by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (Past) and hosted by the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University.

"More than 100 local and international scientists will participate in this Conference that will consist of four special symposia, three focusing on the interplay between organism and their changing environment throughout Earth's history, and one focusing on the use of palaeontology in education", says conference chairperson, Dr Jonah Choiniere from Wits University.

The plenary talks for the special symposia will be presented by Dr Cindy Looy, Dr Kaye Reed, Dr Tony Lelliott, and Doug Erwin.

One of the highlights is a talk on a new interactive digital map that highlights areas of paleontological sensitivity in South Africa.

Since 2008, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) has worked with specialists to produce reports on the known paleontological heritage of each province in South Africa.

Now this map can be used by developers as an early-warning system for potential impacts to significant paleontological heritage.

The first PSSA Conference took place at the National Museum, Bloemfontein in July 1979 and in 2012 the Conference was hosted by the University of Cape Town.

"It is crucial that palaeo-scientists with different research areas get together to inform each other of their latest findings.

This interconnectedness of this conference stimulates new ideas and collaborations that advance palaeo-sciences in southern Africa", Choiniere adds.
Read more on:    nasa  |  naledi pandor  |  johannesburg  |  palaeontology

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