- Don Johanson
- Virginia M. Ullman Chair in human origins; professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change; founding director, Institute of Human Origins
- Arizona State University
As a teenager, Don Johanson read Thomas Henry Huxley’s book Man’s Place in Nature and became mesmerized by the notion that modern humans and African apes descended from an ancient common ancestor that lived in Africa. Over the course of a remarkable career in paleoanthropology, he has been responsible for a number of groundbreaking discoveries, most notably the Lucy skeleton, distinguished by an amalgam of ape and human features that makes her an ideal transitional fossil between ape and human. Since completing his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1974, Johanson has led field explorations in eastern Africa and the Middle East. He has become the leading communicator of the science of human origins through public lectures, hosting and narrating the Emmy-nominated NOVA series In Search of Human Origins, and co-authoring nine books. Johanson founded the Institute of Human Origins, a human-evolution think tank now at Arizona State University.
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