finds may challenge theories
professor and chair of the Department of Geography and a member
of an international research team working in the Republic of Georgia,
says early human fossils discovered there may eventually challenge
prevailing scientific theories of human evolution and human migration
out of Africa.
In August 2001 the team unearthed an early human skull from the
same strata in which it previously discovered other significant
human fossil remains at a unique archaeological site below the ruins
of the medieval town of Dmanisi in southern Georgia.
Ferring is one of the major authors of an article discussing the
importance of the new find in the July 5 issue of Science.
He emphasizes it is too early to reach firm conclusions about what
the site indicates regarding human evolution, early human migration
and development of stone tool technology. However, in comparing
information about the 2001 specimens with the previous Dmanisi human
fossils, Ferring is intrigued by the possibility that the early
human community at the site was far more diverse than anyone could
He and his colleagues report that the characteristics of the new
skull place it among the most primitive individuals so far assigned
to Homo erectus or to any species indisputably human.
He says the skull and other bones that appear to have come from
the same individual are closely related to Homo habilis
(an earlier, more primitive, smaller-brained human species), previously
found only in Olduvai Gorge and Koobi Fora in Africa. No other specimen
even generally resembling Homo habilis has ever been found
outside of Africa.
Among the 1.75 million-year-old human fossils previously unearthed,
the scientific team has identified skulls that resemble Homo
ergaster and a jaw bone that falls well within the range of
Homo erectus. Homo ergaster is a species more
advanced than habilis but more primitive than erectus.
“One of the puzzles yet to be solved at Dmanisi,” Ferring
says, “is that individuals showing traits of all three early
human species appear to have been living there at the same time.
This was completely unexpected, because until now, prevailing scientific
views placed habilis, ergaster and erectus
into an evolutionary sequence.”
Since 1993, Ferring has worked summers at Dmanisi with other scientists
from the Republic of Georgia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland
and the United States. The group also includes student workers from
around the world.
The Dmanisi discoveries have contradicted previous theories that
physical changes in height and speed or advances in stone technology
were necessary for humans to have left Africa for Eurasia. Ferring
says the fossils and tools from Dmanisi show clearly that other
factors were involved. New kinds of social organization or possibly
greater reliance on meat as a staple in colder environments may
explain how these early humans succeeded in the exploration of Eurasia.
“A lot of hard work separates us from answers to the many
new questions Dmanisi has provided,” he explains.
The environmental issues surrounding these earliest migrations are
very significant. The thousands of animal fossils from Dmanisi reveal
a much more African-like setting than exists in Georgia today. Bones
of rhinoceroses, giraffes, saber-toothed cats, elephants and horses
show that these people may have found quite familiar landscapes
in Georgia. At the same time, fossil remains of deer, pigs, bears
and wolves reflect the nearby forests of Georgia’s mountainous
Ferring’s research is funded by grants from the L.S.B. Leakey
Foundation and the National Science Foundation.
Ribbon cutting opens research park
From left, Denton Mayor Euline Brock (’74 Ph.D.), UNT
System Regent C. Dan Smith (’62), U.S. House Majority
Leader Dick Armey and Regents Gayle Strange (’67) and
George Pepper cut the ribbon Aug. 14 symbolizing the opening
of the UNT Research Park.
Majority Leader Dick Armey was the guest of honor and principal
speaker at the ceremonial ribbon cutting to open the new UNT Research
Park Aug. 14.
The ceremony was held at the former Texas Instruments property,
four miles from the main Denton campus near the juncture of U.S.
Highway 77 and Loop 288, just east of Interstate 35.
The park will house the new UNT College of Engineering, research
activities and a number of administrative activities that will be
moved from the university’s main Denton campus. It also will
serve as a venue for UNT to form partnerships with high-tech corporations
and other businesses in expanding research activities and capabilities
in the North Texas area.
UNT purchased the TI property, which features four interconnected
two-story buildings of some 550,000 gross square feet, for $8.9
million in November to serve as a research park and as the home
of UNT's new College of Engineering.
"I applaud UNT's commitment to a college of engineering and
its creation of a research park. Both actions are major steps forward
in the strengthening of the university and its future impact on
the economic development of the entire North Texas region,"
Armey said at the ceremony.
UNT President Norval Pohl says the facility provides "outstanding
"With authorization from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating
Board to initiate an engineering college, UNT is poised to assist
the state of Texas in the critical task of widening and deepening
the pool of workers in science, engineering and technology fields,"
"Our new engineering programs will provide valuable research
and developmental expertise to the Texas high-technology industries,
and particularly to firms located throughout the North Texas region
— which is the single largest population center in Texas,"
The UNT College of Engineering is expected to admit its first students
in the 2003-04 academic year. UNT expects to have 650 engineering
students by 2007 and 1,250 engineering students by 2010. When the
college opens, it will comprise three departments: the Department
of Engineering Technology, the Department of Computer Science and
Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
H. Norman Schwarzkopf to speak
Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf will speak on “Leadership
in Difficult Times” at the UNT Murphy Enterprise Center Leadership
Luncheon Nov. 15. The event is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30
p.m. at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Dallas.
Schwarzkopf is best known for his service as commander in chief
of the U.S. Central Command and commander of operations for Desert
Shield and Desert Storm. He coordinated the efforts of the allied
forces from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from August 1990 until his retirement
in August 1991. Since retiring, he has published an autobiography,
It Doesn’t Take a Hero, and participated in several
television specials, including the award-winning D-Day.
He is currently working as a consultant with NBC.
The luncheon will also feature comments by Ken Murphy (’60),
founder of the Murphy Enterprise Center, and the announcement of
the winners of the $50,000 Shirley Murphy Entrepreneur Contest and
the Murphy Award, recognizing outstanding entrepreneurship.
Tickets are $175 each or $1,500 for a table of 10. Corporate sponsorships
are also available. A portion of the cost of each ticket may be
considered a charitable contribution. Proceeds will be used for
student awards and programs offered through the center.
For more information or to make reservations, call (940) 565-2848
or e-mail MurphyCenter@unt.edu.
members were named Regents Professors at the August meeting of the
UNT System Board of Regents. Receiving the honor were Jeffry Kelber,
chemistry; Floyd McDaniel, physics; James Morrow, kinesiology, health
promotion and recreation; James Riggs, music; William Scharnberg,
music; and Marcia Staff, finance, insurance, real estate and law.
Regents Professors, recognized for outstanding research or teaching,
devote at least half of their teaching load to introductory-level
bird on campus
signature eagle, Scrappy, is sporting a new look this fall. The
creative department of University Communications and Marketing began
working with the athletics department in May to create a character
that incorporates the “Mean Green” name with the university’s
longstanding mascot, the eagle.
The new image depicts Scrappy in motion as a green eagle with a
white head, green eyes and a snarling beak. Scrappy’s talons
grasp the moniker “Mean Green.”
"We did a lot of research and spent a lot of time studying
other major college spirit markers," says Todd Lancaster, university
creative director. "There are exciting things happening in
UNT athletics, and we want to reflect that in a new look. We wanted
a character that was aggressive and had some human-like qualities
and that also showed movement. We also needed a design that would
distinguish UNT's eagle from all the other eagle mascots. The Mean
Green name is unique, so we needed to tie the eagle to that concept
— the new Scrappy is mean, and he is green."