Taking the Bone Detectives tour to the next level

  • March 20, 2013

Dynamic and upcoming young scientist, Brendon Billings, has hosted a series of themed walking tours at Maropeng over the last two years. These have been highly successful and this year he has big plans for new and exciting tour offerings.

“Tours for this year are definitely going to be quite different. I will be refocusing my research around neuroscience, hence the brain and behaviour will be one of my more focal themes for tours this year. The brain and behaviour has been a popular topic globally in recent years and I believe that this will definitely add a new twist to my tours. I also had quite a few requests last year to have a tour on the brain in particular,” he explains.

He will also include a more robust historical review of pioneers in the field of palaeontology including a discussion dedicated to Professor Tobias. “However, certain things will remain the same such as it being an interactive talk with many practical examples, so no lectures, just fun!” he says.

Having grown up in Coronationville, Johannesburg, Billings has completed his MSc degree in the History of Science at the University of Witwatersrand, with specific reference to primatology and the evolution of consciousness and is just starting his PHd. Billings is also the Curator of all Collections housed within the School of Anatomical Sciences, at Wits Medical School. At just 29 years of age, Billings is a passionate young man with a special interest in Physical Anthropology. He represents the new face of science and brings a refreshing new perspective and energy to the field.

“My initial involvement at Maropeng and Sterkfontein was basically related to a tour that I had informally given to the then Curator, now Marketing and Communications Manager of Maropeng, Lindsay Marshall.  Lindsay was impressed with the tour and advised me to consider doing theme-based tours for the public community. This was an ideal opportunity for me to share my passion and love for the sciences to an interested audience,” he explains. 

Billings says he has had a very positive response to his tours so far. “Individuals mainly comment on the level of detail and the actual experience in terms of exposure to the specimens and materials I use such as human and animal bones. I think what most people comment on is the actual understanding of human evolution, those Eureka moments where it all makes sense and erroneous myths about human evolution are dispelled. That to me is really the highlight of each tour on a personal level,” he adds.

“I believe that scientists have a social responsibility to educate and expose the public to new and current trends in thinking. Also from a South African point of view I believe that many South Africans are oblivious to the treasures in our own back yards. I find that the world is more aware of our own fossils than we are. It’s a shame, but tours of this nature I believe should correct that,” he concludes.

Billings will also be hosting a series of dinners where he will present exciting content on how the bones of our human ancestors hold many stories about the voyage through evolution. The first of these will kick off on 16 March at 18:00.

For more information on the dinners and tours visit www.maropeng.co.za or call (014) 577 9000.


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