Fred Smith
Fred Smith

Professor and Chair of Illinois State University Anthropology Department Fred Smith will present the 35th lecture sponsored by the "Journal of Anthropological Research" on "Neandertals and Folks Like Us" on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Anthropology Lecture Room (room 163).

He will also present a specialized seminar "Vindija Cave (Croatia): Late Neandertals in South-Central Europe" on Friday, Sept. 21 at noon in Anthropology Room 248.

Smith is one of the world's leading experts on the Neandertals, those ever-enigmatic near-humans who inhabited Europe and the Near East from 300,000 to 30,000 years ago. For more than 40 years, he has conducted research in Croatia (former Yugoslavia) and has specialized on the anatomy of the Neandertals of the Balkans, most notably the large assemblages of remains from Krapina and Vindija caves.

He has also studied classic fossils from Germany, including the type Neandertal specimens.  Furthermore, Dr. Smith is intimately familiar with the corpus of both Neandertal and early modern humans ("CroMagnons") from Europe and has authored major syntheses of the Homo sapiens record from the Upper Pleistocene of the continent (one with former UNM grad student Steve Churchill).

Smith has published eight books, with two others in preparation.  Most significant perhaps are "The Origins of Modern Humans" (1984, with Frank Spencer), "Continuity or Replacement" (1992, with Günter Bräuer), and "The Human Lineage" (2009, with Matt Cartmill–an earlier JAR Lecturer).

In recent years, Smith has been collaborating in the study of Vindija and other cave sites with Ivor Karavanic, who was a Fulbright student at UNM several years ago. Vindija contained the remains of some of the last-surviving Neandertals, whose DNA was exceptionally well preserved, providing the field of paleoanthropology with some of the best genetic information on this fascinating, then soon-to-be extinct species. Smith is a very engaging speaker and the topic is one of the most provocative ones in all of anthropology, as it has been for over a century and a half, since the first discoveries of Neandertal bones in Belgium, Gibraltar and Germany.

The Lecture and Seminar are free and open to the Public.  The venues are wheelchair-accessible. The "Journal of Anthropological Research," founded by Professor Leslie Spier, has been published quarterly by the University of New Mexico in the interest of general anthropology since 1945. 

For subscription information, visit Journal of Anthropological Research or call 277-4544.