I wrote this on April 7. It’s over A&M professor Darryl de Ruiter, who recently won an award for his research:
Darryl de Ruiter, a professor with the Department of Anthropology, has recently been honored by the Association of Former Students with a Distinguished Achievement Award for outstanding research.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized with a really illustrious group of former recipients of this award,” de Ruiter said.
de Ruiter has spent the past 23 years researching biological anthropology. He said he now focuses on two main subjects.
“One is a fossil site in Malapa [South Africa],” de Ruiter said. “We’ve discovered a new type of human ancestor called Austrolopithicus sediba. It’s much smaller, it’s got a smaller brain size, and its body proportions are quite different.”
This species, which dates back roughly 2 million years, is said to have walked bipedally like humans, but spent a lot of time climbing trees.
de Ruiter’s other research focus is on a site called Rising Star, also in South Africa.
“We found a new type of human ancestor we’ve called Homo naledi,” he said. “Now, that one’s different. Its body proportions are much similar to humans, but its brain size is less than half a human’s. It would’ve looked very strange alive.”
de Ruiter plans to return to South Africa in June, to continue his research. He makes the trip once or twice a year.
de Ruiter will share details on the discovery of Homo naledi in his keynote speech at CONNECT 2016. CONNECT is a free annual conference hosted by Liberal Arts that give former students and friends an inside look at the college and unique access to distinguished faculty, research facilities, and outstanding students.
de Ruiter earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Manitoba, and his Ph.D. in paleoanthropology at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. He came to A&M in 2003 and became a cornerstone faculty fellow in Liberal Arts in 2013. He dedicates much of his time to his research areas, 3D printing copies of recently discovered fossils, and teaching several undergraduate and upper level anthropology classes.
He and other Distinguished Achievement Award recipients will be given their rewards on April 25 in Rudder Theater at 1:30. Awardees will receive cash gift, an engraved watch, and a commemorative plaque.