ASSAf News

The Royal Society of South Africa and the Academy of Science of South Africa invite you to a free public lecture by Professor Susan Kidson, Former Dean of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town entitled The story of Equids in Africa: historical, archaeological and new genetic insights.

The evolution of the equid family – including horses, asses, donkeys and zebras, is a 55-million-year old story. Horses, donkeys and asses have had a profound socio-political and economic influence on human development over the last 10 to 20 000 years.   While modern zebras and asses arrived in Africa some 2 mya, horses only arrived in Egypt in historical time. DNA sequencing and bioinformatics combined with zoo-archaeological and historical information has given new and surprising insights into the story of the equids, their diversification in Asia and Africa, and their domestication in Africa (asses) and in the Middle East/Eurasia (horses). The talk will go on to unpack genetic and historical information on the mystery of the origin of the African Barb, its relationship with Arabian horses, and the influence of this bloodline across the world. The talk will end with some reflections the arrival of horses and donkeys in southern Africa via sea routes, and their profound influence of the local history and development.

About the Speaker

Emeritus Professor Susan Kidson trained in Zoology and Developmental Cell Biology at the University of the Witwatersrand before coming to Cape Town, where she took up a position in 1987 in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT. She has spent time overseas, including at University of Southern California, MIT, Vanderbilt in the USA and most recently at the A*STAR Biomedical Research Institute in Singapore. Her research interests and publications include work on the neural crest, pigmentation and patterning of the skin, hypo-pigmentary disorders, and diseases of the eye. She has trained many postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She has served as a head of department, deputy dean and acting dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences for a period of 15 years. She has recently retired is currently working on a documentary series entitled Equus in Africa, a project that has enabled her to bring together her interests in biology, genetics, culture, and history.

Date:     Wednesday 15 May 2019

Time:    17h00 (Tea will be served from 16h30)

Place:    South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Auditorium, Observatory Road, Observatory*

*Directions to SAAO Auditorium : From the N2, turn off to the M57 – Liesbeek Parkway; turning in the direction of Cape Town and continue until the traffic lights with Hartleyvale (hockey and football) on your left. Turn right at traffic lights into Observatory Road, pass the River Club; the S A Astronomical Observatory is next on the left. Once through the security gates bear left following the SALT signs to the auditorium i.e. last building on the left (white with stoep & ramp). PLEASE DO NOT PARK IN FRONT OF DRIVEWAYS


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