Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and the College
Zeresenay (Zeray) Alemseged studies the origin of early human ancestors and the environmental factors that influenced their evolution. His objective is to unearth and analyze clues to their biology and behavior, and to identify milestone evolutionary events that ultimately led to the emergence of modern Homo sapiens. His research centers on the discovery and interpretation of hominin fossil remains and their environments, with emphasis on fieldwork designed to acquire new data on early hominin skeletal biology, environmental context, and behavior. While leading the Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia, he reported the discovery of the almost-complete fossilized remains of a 3.3-million-year-old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Now known as “Selam” and “the world’s oldest child,” it is the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor discovered to date and represents a major advancement in the understanding of human and pre-human evolution.
Alemseged holds a BSc in geology from Addis Ababa University and completed an MSc program at the Institute of Evolutionary Sciences, University of Montpellier 2 in France. He received a PhD in paleoanthropology from the Laboratory of Paleontology, University of Paris VI and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Most recently, he was the Irvine Chair and senior curator of anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.