Robert Broom 2
Professor Robert Broom

Maropeng is thrilled to announce that it will be hosting the Royal Society of South Africa’s Broom Colloquium on November 26, 2011. The top scientists behind some of the more recent palaeontological discoveries will be gathering for the day to present papers on a wide range of research issues.

This Broom Colloquium serves to commemorate the death of renowned palaeontologist and medical doctor, Professor Robert Broom, 60 years ago.

The colloquium is an initiative of the Royal Society of South Africa, in partnership with Maropeng, to honour Broom in the context of recent discoveries of and research on hominids and other fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Maropeng curator Lindsay Marshall says that hosting the colloquium is very prestigious. “It adds a huge amount of credibility to Maropeng’s role, not only as a tourism destination but as a place where international scientific discussion can take place.”

An exhibition of original fossils discovered at Bolt’s Farm, one of the sites where Broom worked, presented by the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, will be on display at Maropeng until February 2012.

This event, from 08h30 to 16h00, is open to the public and tickets can be booked online with Maropeng. The cost is R300 and includes tea and lunch as well as access to all the presentations.

Book online for the Broom Colloquium

Speakers include:

  • Professor Lee Berger and Professor Ron Clarke from the Institute for Human Evolution (IHE) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), who have both discovered extraordinary skeletons of Australopithecus at the Cradle.
  • Palaeontologists from France, including Dr Brigitte Senut, Dr Martin Pickford and Dominique Gommery (famous for their discovery of Orrorin, a 6-million-year-old hominid fossil from Kenya), will give presentations on fieldwork and research on South African fossils, including shrews, warthogs and primates.
  • Dr Bernhard Zipfel and Stephany Potze, curators of fossils at Wits and the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History respectively.
  • Morris Sutton, who has undertaken chemical analyses of cave breccia from Sterkfontein as part of a team with Professor Ron Clarke and others.
  • Professor Liu Wu from the Chinese Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, who has undertaken comparative analyses of hominid fossils from South Africa and China as part of a bilateral programme.
  • Professor Francis Thackeray, director of the IHE, who will present with Eddie Odes (also of the IHE) about the spectrum of variation in hominid specimens that has been attributed to Australopithecus and Homo, with special reference to Australopithecus sediba, which appears to be transitional.

Broom (born November 30, 1866 in Paisley, Scotland; died in Pretoria on April 6, 1951) trained as a medical doctor but spent most of his life in South Africa as a palaeontologist. Initially he worked on mammal-like reptiles from the Karoo. From 1936 until his death, he worked on fossils from Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, Bolt’s Farm, Minnaar’s Site as well as many other localities. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1920.