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Continental breakup and the dawn of humankind

In the newest “Frontiers in Science” lecture series, geologist Giday WoldeGabriel will discuss the intriguing fossil findings from an African rift valley.
March 31, 2008
Los Alamos National Laboratory sits on top of a once-remote mesa in northern New Mexico with the Jemez mountains as a backdrop to research and innovation covering multi-disciplines from bioscience, sustainable energy sources, to plasma physics and new materials.

Los Alamos National Laboratory sits on top of a once-remote mesa in northern New Mexico with the Jemez mountains as a backdrop to research and innovation covering multi-disciplines from bioscience, sustainable energy sources, to plasma physics and new materials.

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Geology and paleontology subject of upcoming lecture series

LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, March 31, 2008—In the newest Los Alamos “Frontiers in Science” lecture series, geologist Giday WoldeGabriel will discuss the intriguing fossil findings from an African rift valley that he and partners at the University of California, Berkeley have been studying.

WoldeGabriel’s talk will focus on what it was about Africa that led to the proliferation of life in the midst of catastrophic volcanic eruptions and other environmental hazards.  The answer, he posits, lies in the continent’s geographic position compared with the others during the later part of Earth’s history.

Africa was pinned down for tens of millions of years while the rest of the continents were globetrotting.  Thus it experienced less dramatic climatic and environmental fluctuations, even though it was subjected to periodic complex internal forces that caused the outpouring of more than a million cubic kilometers of lava in the northeastern regions. Despite the inhospitable environment, this region contains the longest and most continuous human fossil record known today.  And thanks to the exposed rock and the rapid rates of erosion, record numbers of fossils have been revealed to the science team’s exploring eyes.

WoldeGabriel’s talk, sponsored by the Fellows of Los Alamos National Laboratory, will explore how geological and climatic forces influenced the dawn of humankind over the last 6 million years. Admission is free, and for more information about the Fellows Frontiers in Science lectures, see http://www.lanl.gov/science/fellows/lectures.shtml online.

The talks are offered four times in four different northern New Mexico venues:

7:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, 2008
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
1801 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque

7:00 p.m. Friday, April 4, 2008
James A. Little Theater, New Mexico School for the Deaf
1060 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe

7:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Taos Convention Center, Los Angelitos Room
Civic Plaza Drive

7:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Duane W. Smith Auditorium
Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos

For more information, contact the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office at (505) 665-4400 or (888) 841-8256 toll free.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.


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