The Skeletal Biology Research Centre is the first and only UK-based Centre focusing on the analysis of biological hard tissues (bones and teeth). It brings together innovative research, novel methodologies and international collaborations already established within Biological Anthropology in the School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC), with expertise and resources from Physical Sciences and Biosciences at Kent, and the Powell-Cotton Museum. The Centre carries out cutting-edge research ranging from analyses of the most important human fossils, histological studies of teeth and bone, isotopic analyses and dietary reconstruction, virtual 3D analyses of the skeleton, and forensic identification that together ultimately aim to better understand humans and our evolutionary history.
The launch event, held on 29th September, was a great success. The afternoon of activities started with a tour of the research laboratories (Animal Post-Cranial Evolution, Human Osteology, Virtual Paleoanthropology), which were led be members of the new Centre. They demonstrated some of the cutting edge technology within the labs, including equipment that reconstructs 3D morphology, the microscopic structures of bones and teeth, and their chemical elements. Many questions were asked, and our Pro-Vice Professor Philippe De Wilde seemed particularly interested in the new technology.
The lab tours were followed by two presentations. First, the research themes and aims of the new Centre were outlined. Then the invited speaker, Dr María Martinón-Torres (Anthropology, UCL), gave a really engaging presentation about the fossil evidence for human evolution at the Atapuerca Mountains in Spain. The audience included our Head of School, staff and post-graduate students, and representatives from the Schools of Biosciences, Physical Sciences, Classics and Archaeology, as well as the Powell Cotton Museum. A large contingent travelled down from London (Imperial College, UCL, Queen Marys, Natural History Museum). Professor Bernard Wood, an honorary member of SBRC, was also present. He is one of the world’s foremost paleo-biologists, and he travelled over from the George Washington University in the United States to attend the launch. The event closed with a wine reception.
A great start and thank you to everyone who attended! An even bigger thank you to Alexandra for her help putting the event together.
Report by: Dr Patrick Mahoney