Category Archives: Club Meetings

27.3. Talk by Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra

Hi All!

Next week prof. Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra (Palaeontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich) will give a presentation titled: “Evolution in the Neotropics as North and South America connected: new discoveries of terrestrial and marine fossils and their ecological and biogeographic significance”. Here is an abstract:

“New palaeontological discoveries in northern South America characterize faunas of terrestrial mammals just before and during the closure of the Central American Seaway (CAS). The first records of migrants from North American mammals in this region (carnivorans and camelids) are associated with recent landscape changes in younger deposits that document major landscape changes. But fossils of two marine groups do speak for an earlier closure of the Central American Seaway than classically assumed. Data derived from a long term field efforts (Miocene to the Pleistocene) resulted in fossil sharks and rays from 67 geological units in 17 countries, from both shallow and deep-water habitats. The highest faunal similarity between the assemblages from the Eastern pacific and the Western Atlantic regions is at the early Miocene, with subsequent faunal differentiation within each of those regions, probably related with the increasing closure of the CAS and thus the formation of a barrier. Studying sea catfishes with novel calibration on genome-wide data, we identify a series of divergences between groups of Caribbean and Pacific fishes around 10 Ma, indicating vicariant speciation millions of years before the final isthmus closure. Terrestrial and marine fossils, integrated in ecological and biogeographic contexts, provide an understanding of major events of evolution in the tropics impossible to obtain based on molecular data alone.”

We were also thinking to go for drinks or dinner afterwards.

See you all on Tue 23rd March at 16:00 in C108, Physicum”!

Best, Janina

The week of talks :)

Monday  27.11. cl. 16:15, C108

Dr. Jussi Eronen: Introduction of the new research unit BIOS where he is working at the moment, and also a rehearsal lecture (20 minutes length) that he needs to give at the Biosciences in the beginning of next month


Tuesday 28.11. cl. 16:00, C108

Dr. Lars van den Hoek Ostende, Naturalis museum, Leiden: “Where weird is standard; topics in insular evolution”

IN ADDITION Prof. Lars Holmer from Uppsala University will talk about the latest news on the evolution of Brachiopods on Friday 1.12. at the department seminar cl.14:15 in C108.



Dr. Josephine Joordens at the club on 24.10.

Hello All,

next week we will have Dr. Josephine Joordens from Leiden University visiting us. She will give us a talk in the club titled: “The Turkana basin: a mere marginal area in the grand theatre of African hominin evolution?”. Here is a short introduction to projects she works with:

“My premise is that hominins should be regarded as just another mammal surviving, reproducing and evolving in its environment. Therefore, it is crucial to gain detailed knowledge of hominin paleoenvironments, faunal context and ecology. An important underlying assumption in my research is that the presence of water always must have been an important factor for hominins: as drinking water, but also as a source of freshwater and marine food resources.

Presently my research consist of three ongoing projects:

TURKANA: This project focuses on reconstructing climate and environment in the Turkana Basin (Kenya) of ~2 million year ago, when two early Homo species together with Paranthropus boisei roamed the landscape. It is done in the framework of the ICDP Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP), and the Turkana Cyclostratigraphy Project (see NWO and Feibel’s Lab). In 2013, a core was drilled in West Turkana paleolake deposits, and we did a complementary outcrop fieldwork near the drill site. The first articles are now in review and will be published in the course of 2017.

COASTAL ORIGINS? In 2013 I was awarded a NWO Veni Grant and started this project (see Leiden news) that aims to develop a biogeographical framework for early hominin evolution in Africa, between ~5 and 2.5 million years ago. I hypothesize that recurrent climatically stable episodes, paced by eccentricity, caused recurrent riverine connections between coastal refuge areas and inland marginal areas, including the Chad Basin in West-Central Africa. To assess occurrence and timing of such East-West dispersal corridors, we use genetic distance between extant fish populations in Lakes Turkana and Chad as proxy for past hydrographic connectivity between these basins.

TRINIL: My other research project centers on the rich fossil fauna from the Homo erectus type locality Trinil on Java (Indonesia). This unique collection, excavated by my scientific hero Eugène Dubois (1858-1940) and housed at Naturalis in Leiden, is a treasure trove that may hold many important clues to the behaviour and cognition of Javanese Homo erectus. Following our 2015 publication in Nature (on shell material from the Dubois Collection) we were invited by the National Research Center for Archaeology ARKENAS (Jakarta) to collaborate in a new field study of this classical site. In August 2016, together we successfully conducted a pilot fieldwork in Trinil that provides a key fundament for future studies.In May 2017 I have been awarded the prestigious Vidi grant from NWO to continue our research in Trinil for 5 years, starting in January 2018.“

See you on Tuesday 24.10.2017 at 16:00 in C108, Physicum!

The first meeting of autumn 2017

Hi All,

we will start the autumn in Kurten Club next week! The first meeting will be planning of the autumn club meetings and exchanging summer news. If you have an idea of a speaker etc. please share it with us all.

See you on Tuesday 12.9. at 16:00 in C108, Physicum!



Three world class talks in Helsinki 4th September

4th SEPTEMBER, 2017, AT 14:00-16:30

Welcome to celebrate Fifty Years of Research into Human Origins in the Turkana Basin, Kenya. This is a unique opportunity to hear and speak to three of the world-leading pioneers of Turkana research speaking about their work.

Meave Leakey: Milestones in the story of us: how, when and why we came to be Thure Cerling: New approaches to understanding the environments of hominin evolution and early hominin diets Anna K. Behrensmeyer: The Ecological Theater of Human Evolution in Africa

Location: the House of Science and Letters, Kirkkokatu 6, 00170 Helsinki, Room 104.

Organisers: The ECHOES Project, funded by the Academy of Finland, The Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, the University of Helsinki Alumni Association

Excursion to Heureka on Thu 4.5.2017

Kurtén Club’s excursion to Heureka, and especially its Animal Body Worlds exhibition, will happen tomorrow (Thursday 4.5.2017)! We will meet each other at the ticket booth inside Heureka at around 17 o´clock.

Heureka is open until 20:00 on Thursdays, the ticket for an adult is 22€ (students with student card 15€). The address is Kuninkaalantie 5, Tikkurila, Vantaa.

See you tomorrow at Heureka! (if you want to be sure we wait for you, please inform me that you are coming via email)


25.4. Johannes Müller: “Cenozoic environments and reptile evolution”

Hi All,

tomorrow we will a have a guest from Berlin Natural History Museum. Dr. Johannes Müller will give a talk: “Cenozoic environments and reptile evolution”. I hope to see many of you attending!

See you tomorrow 25.4. at 16:00 in C108, Physicum!


Ps. On Tuesday 16.5. we combine Kurten club with Alumn Associations event where Jared Diamond gives a lecture “Displays of Humans, Animals, and proto-humans”. If you are interested to join, please register here: