The Earliest Child: The Significance of “Selam”

October 16, 2019
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Center
Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library, South State Street, Chicago, IL, USA

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Watch the event here.

Join us for a talk with Professor Zeray Alemseged as he presents on how the discovery of an almost complete skeleton of a juvenile early human ancestor has helped scientists answer some of the pressing questions about human evolution.

DNA and fossil evidence has made it amply clear that we diverged from the apes around 7 Million years ago. Since then, the two lineages have evolved leading to humans on one hand and chimpanzees on the other. Paleoanthropologists endeavor to establish the milestone events that took place on our side of the divergence by making fossil discoveries.

When did we start to walk on two legs? Use and make stone tools? Have a human-like body proportion? Have a large brain? — These are some of the key questions. Despite major achievements, many aspects of these questions remain unanswered due to the fragmentary nature of the fossil record. Ongoing research on the earliest child found in Dikika, Ethiopia, and nicked named “Selam,” is shedding light on patterns of childhood, locomotion, dental and brain development, and many issues pertaining to human evolution. While most of our knowledge in paleoanthropology comes from remains of adult individuals like Lucy, fossil children also have unique stories to tell. Our knowledge of human evolution will be complete when we combine the two.

Event Details

Tuesday, October 16, 2019, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (lower level), 400 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60605. This program is FREE to attend, and seating will be first-come, first-served.

Parking and Transportation

The Harold Washington Center is easily accessible by most CTA trains and multiple bus lines. For detailed travel information visit or call the Travel Information Center at 1-888-YOUR-CTA or 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (TTY). For parking options, please visit

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