Public lecture seminar „Medicine and Evolution“

    A public lecture-seminar titled Medicine and Evolution was organized by the Tbilisi State University (TSU) and Academia Europaea Tbilisi Knowledge Hub on February 14th, 2024. The occasion united two topics: Humans out of Africa: Who? When? Why? and Teeth – Key to Evolutionary Success of Mankind.

    The first topic was presented by the Professor of the Tbilisi State University, the General Director of the Georgian National Museum, and the Academic Director of the Academia Europaea Tbilisi Knowledge Hub, Academician David Lordkipanidze. He gave the public a broad overview of the path of human evolution and talked about the waves of its dispersal out of Africa. During his speech, he explained why the Dmanisi archaeological site and its’ discoveries are of crucial importance to studying the evolutionary history of mankind.  

    “Who, when and why left Africa? – we would not be able to answer these questions based on a single discovery. To explain matters of such complexity we need to study a large number of discoveries and conduct multiple multidisciplinary researches. Science develops fast and so does palaeoanthropology. New methodologies are becoming available, which enables us to solve quite complex riddles in science, while vast diversity of the materials from the Dmanisi archaeological site provides us with practically unlimited possibilities to hold the multidisciplinary studies,” – Prof. David Lordkipandize noted.   

    During the second part of the lecture-session, Prof. Ann Margvelashvili, who is a TSU Invited Doctor, Senior Researcher of the Georgian National Museum, and the Head of the Ph.D. program of the Somatology at the University of Georgia, offered us a deeper dive into the path of human evolution by presenting one of the recent interdisciplinary studies conducted on the Dmanisi archaeological material, specifically – the dentognathic system of hominids.

    The speech titled Teeth – Key to Evolutionary Success of Mankind was interesting not only because we could learn about the most recent studies, but also because we were given an opportunity to understand the immensely complex evolutionary path of the masticatory system and dentition. Teeth appear to be the hardest tissue of a living organism, majority of the paleontological findings are teeth, therefore the lecture presented its importance from a new angle: “Teeth for me are kind of a Black Box, if we manage to read accurately the information stored there we can answer many questions: we can find out genetical information, condition of health of the teeth owner, age of the individual, lifestyle and diet and also, we can identify the species. For example, while studying one of the lower jaws from Dmanisi, we traced down the usage of toothpick by that specific individual, while when we conducted research on the toothless individual also from Dmanisi, we proved that human ancestors were taking care of each other already 1.8 million years ago.” – noted Prof. Ann Margvelashvili.

    The public lecture-seminar Medicine and Evolution was initiated by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the TSU, Assoc. Prof. Maia Bitskinashvili and the Head of the Department of Stomatology, and the head of the Orthopaedic Stomatology and Implantology of the same Faculty, Prof. Vladimer (Mamuka) Margvelashvili: “Today Academician David Lordkipanidze and Prof. Ann Margvelashvili covered not only a single field of science, but they presented combination of medicine, archeology and paleontology fields, showing how those directions are interconnected. For me, as one of the listeners, this lecture-seminar was extremely interesting and I do believe that it is very important to hold such events for bringing science close to the general public and make it understandable for those who are interested.” – noted Prof. Vladimer (Mamuka) Margvelashvili.  

    Professors and students of the Tbilisi State University and Tbilisi State Medical University as well as the representatives of the Georgian National Museums and the general public attended the occasion.


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