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Peter Ungar to Lecture on Teeth: Evolution’s Bite

Peter Ungar

Peter Ungar’s Honors College Signature Seminar will focus on teeth, “a story written in stone—the fossil record.”
Courtesy of Peter Ungar

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Peter Ungar to Lecture on ‘Teeth: Evolution’s Bite’

Biological anthropologist Peter Ungar brings a multi-million-year perspective to teeth and the stories they tell about diet, environmental change and human evolution: “It’s a story written in stone-the fossil record.”

Ungar will present a lecture titled “Teeth: Evolution’s Bite,” at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, in Gearhart Hall Auditorium (GEAR 26). All on campus and in the community are invited to the lecture, which will draw on material in his book Evolution’s Bite, forthcoming from Princeton University Press.

The lecture also will preview “Teeth,” the Honors College Signature Seminar that Ungar will lead next spring. The course will cover topics ranging from how teeth work and how they are used, to ecology, evolution, climatology and archaeology.

“It will assemble the pieces, using teeth as a guide to understand how a changing world made us human,” Ungar said.

Ungar, along with law professor Brian Gallini, will launch the new Honors College Signature Seminars, which invite honors students into the research worlds of top scholars. The Signature Seminars, designated HNRC 4013H in the university’s Catalog of Studies, will focus on a wide range of cutting-edge topics, including cancer, race, aging, water, profit and Jesus. Honors students must apply to participate in these courses, and those selected will be designated Dean’s Signature Scholars.

“I am so thrilled to share my passion for teeth with the U of A’s best and brightest students in this signature seminar,” Ungar said. “I encourage all who are interested in the clues teeth offer to our past to join us at this lecture.”

Peter Ungar serves as Distinguished Professor of Anthropology in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. He is also Director the university’s Environmental Dynamics Program and an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ungar is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, and the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy.

He is known primarily for his work on the role of diet in human evolution. He has spent thousands of hours observing wild apes and other primates in the forests of Latin America and Southeast Asia, studied fossils from Tyrannosaurus to Neanderthals, and developed new techniques for using surface analysis technologies to tease information about diet from tooth shape and patterns of use wear. This research has been funded by more than $2 million in grant support.

Ungar has written or coauthored more than 150 scientific papers on ecology and evolution for books and journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. He has also edited or co-edited edited three volumes focusing on the evolution of human diet, and his academic book, Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity (Johns Hopkins University Press), won the PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers for best book in the biological sciences. His latest book is a popular science work entitled Teeth: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press).

source : University of Arkansas

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