Save the date: the Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa's 2014 biennial meeting

  • July 02, 2014

The Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University is proud to be the host of the 2014 biennial meeting of the Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa, taking place from 11 to 14 July 2014.

An original fossil at Maropeng Visitor Centre. Photo courtesy of flowcomm

The meeting will attract a host of international scientists in palaeontology and related fields. Visit the conference website for more details.

The highlight of the four-day meeting is a special public lecture titled Bringing Two Worlds Together: How Earth’s Past and Present Help Us Search for Life on Other Planets, to be presented by the esteemed NASA scientist Dr Kevin Hand. All are welcome!

Hand is heavily involved in the search for extraterrestrial life, in planetary exploration and, perhaps surprisingly, in the origins of life on Earth.

He is a renowned researcher in the field of astrobiology and was one of the scientists who worked with Hollywood director James Cameron in exploring extremophile life on the deep-sea vents of Earth’s mid-ocean ridges.

Date: 11-14 July 2014
Time: 18h00
Venue: Great Hall, Braamfontein Campus East, Wits University
Enquiries: Dr Jonah Choiniere (meeting chair) at

Abstract of Dr Hand’s talk:

At least five moons in the outer solar system may harbour liquid water oceans. These oceans have likely persisted for much of the history of the solar system, and as a result they are highly compelling targets in our search for life beyond Earth.

Hand will explain the science behind why we think we know these oceans exist, and what we know about the physical and chemical conditions that likely persist on these worlds.

He will focus on the surface chemistry of Jupiter’s moon Europa, and connect laboratory spectroscopic measurements to ground and space-based observations of Europa’s surface.

He will also show how the study of several extreme environments on Earth are helping to inform our search for habitable environments on distant worlds, while simultaneously providing new insights into Earth’s complex ecosystems.

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