Recent advances in molecular genetics are radically changing ideas about the appearance of primates and the subsequent branching off of the major lineages. Previously, it was thought primates first appeared some 65 million years ago; now experts are proposing dates as far back as 80-90 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
The hazy image of our lineage provided by the fossil record is now coming into focus thanks to new molecular analytical techniques; researchers now have whole genome sequences representing at least one member of each major lineages and whole mitochondrial lineages of nearly every genus in the order Primates.
Dr. Todd Disotell
Dr. Todd Disotell is a professor of anthropology at New York University. His research interests are centered upon the theme of primate and human evolution, at all levels from the populational to the supra-ordinal. Those interests encompass primate evolution, molecular evolution, mammalian evolution, molecular systematics, phylogenetic analysis, population genetics, phylogeography, computer modeling, human evolution, human variation, and the history of anthropology.
Dr. Disotell received his Ph.D. and Masters degrees from Harvard University, and his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University.
Greg Farrington is executive director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair of the California Academy of Sciences. Since beginning his post in 2007, Farrington has focused efforts on addressing what CAS considers to be two of the most important scientific questions of our time: How did life happen? And how can we sustain it? CAS is the only institution in the world to combine a museum, aquarium, and planetarium, as well as vigorous programs of research and education. Farrington came to CAS after eight years as president of Lehigh University. Prior to that, he spent 19 years at the University of Pennsylvania. A widely published chemist, Farrington holds more than two dozen patents and has written more than 100 articles in the fields of solid-state chemistry, electrochemistry, and education.
Todd Disotell, a professor of anthropology at NYU, examines the human-chimp split in relation to bipedal fossils that date back to the time period during which many scientists believe the evolutionary leap occurred.