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 Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan  Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town entitled Unravelling the Biology of Extinct Animals Using Bone Histology.

Experimental studies on the bones of modern vertebrates show that bone is a plastic tissue that is highly responsive to its environment, and that its microstructure is affected by the rate at which it forms, biomechanical functioning of the skeletal element within the skeleton, ontogenetic age of the individual, disease, mineral homeostasis and other factors. The histology of fossil bone survives millions of years of fossilisation, and therefore permits a direct assessment of various aspects of the biology of extinct vertebrates. In this illustrated talk I will explain how comparisons of fossil bone histology with that of modern animals have allowed us valuable insight into various aspects of the life history and biology of extinct animals such as non-mammalian synapsids, dinosaurs (including birds), as well as pterosaurs.

About the speaker:

Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is a world renown palaeo-biologist in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Her research on the microscopic structure of bones has led to a better understanding of the biology of a variety of extinct animals such as dinosaurs,  flying reptiles and mammal-like reptiles. Her work has achieved global and local recognition. In 1995 she received an NRF President’s Award and in 1997 she was awarded the Royal Society’s Meiring Naude Medal (1997).  In 2005 she scooped two high profile awards: the South African Woman of the Year Award, which acknowledges her contribution to science both in terms of research and science communication to the wider public, as well as the Distinguished Women Scientist Award from the South African Department of Science and Technology.  In 2013 she was awarded The World Academy of Science sub-Saharan prize for the Popularisation of Science, and in 2015 she received the Academy of Science gold medal entitled “Science for Society”

Professor Chinsamy-Turan has published extensively. Her work appears in international scientific journals (including four publications in Nature, two in Nature Communications, and two in Scientific Reports) as well as in the popular press. She is former President of the Association of South African Women in Science and Engineering, former Deputy President of the Academy of Science of South Africa and has served as Director of Iziko Museums Natural History Collections (which includes the SA Museum and West Coast Fossil Park), and has chaired the Advisory Boards of Scifest Africa, the biggest Science Festival in Africa.

She is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Cape Town Science Centre, chairs the Romer-Simpson Prize Committee of the US-based Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, and is a board member for the Jurassic Foundation (USA). She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, the University of Cape Town and The World Academy of Sciences. She has published two academic books, The Microstructure of Dinosaur Bone (Johns Hopkins University Press, USA, 2005) and The Forerunners of Mammals: Radiation. Histology. Biology (Indiana University Press,  2012), as well as two popular level books entitled Famous Dinosaurs of Africa  (RandomHouseStruik,  2008), and Fossils for Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2014).                                     

Date:     Wednesday 21 August 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).                                                               


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