The dispersal of Homo sapiens ‘Out of Africa’ and across Eurasia is one of the most significant topics in human evolutionary studies. The nature, timing and routes of our migrations has been the subject of numerous debates, involving archaeologists, geneticists, biological anthropologists and earth scientists. In this talk I will summarize the latest thinking about our evolutionary story outside of Africa. I will provide new information emerging out of our own interdisciplinary field work projects in Asia that aim to better understand the challenges that our species faced while expanding across varied and dynamic ecosystems.
Michael Petraglia received his PhD from the University of New Mexico in 1987. He is currently Director of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE), Griffith University. From 2001-2016, he taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, UK, and from 2016 to 2022, he was based at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany. He is currently a Research Associate in the Human Origins Program of the Smithsonian Institution, USA, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Petraglia is a strong advocate of an interdisciplinary approach in archaeology and human evolutionary studies. His work has involved partnerships with numerous national organisations across the globe and collaborations with dozens of scholars, including earth scientists, climate scientists, geologists, geographers, palaeontologists, biological anthropologists, and geneticists. His research has involved a broad range of subjects concerning human evolution, including the evolution of cognition, the evolution of behaviour, and the relationship between climate change and hominin dispersals. He is best known for his archaeological research on hominin migrations across Asia, the effect of the Toba volcanic super-eruption on human communities, and the question of how environmental variability shaped hominin populations in Arabia over the last million years.
Michael regularly publishes in international, peer-reviewed venues covering a wide variety of topics in human evolution. He has authored and co-edited 10 books and published over 250 journal articles and book chapters.
Michael’s research is often profiled in the popular press and he is often consulted by worldwide media organisations for his views on human evolution.