The physical continuity between humans and other animals is incontestable, but human minds seem extraordinary. Our mental capacities have spawned civilisations and technologies that have changed the face of the Earth, whereas even our closest animal relatives remain unobtrusively in their dwindling forests. But what is it about human minds that enabled us to do this? In this talk I will give some examples from a research programme aimed at clarifying what exactly humans share with other animals and what sets human minds apart. A clearer understanding can narrow down the search space for the neurological and genetic bases of complex human traits, and shed light on the origin of our peculiar place in nature.


About the Presenter

Professor Thomas Suddendorf, PhD, FAPS
Thomas Suddendorf is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland. He studies the development of mental capacities in young children and in nonhuman primates to answer fundamental questions about the nature and evolution of the human mind. He has received honors and distinctions for both his research and teaching, including awards from the Association for Psychological Science, the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and theAmerican Psychological Association. He has written over a hundred papers, including a 2007 article on “the evolution of foresight” that was recognized as one of the most highly cited in the field of neuroscience and behaviour. His book “THE GAP- The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals” (NY: Basic books) has attracted outstanding reviews in scientific journals (e.g. Nature, Science) and more popular outlets alike (e.g. New Scientist, The Wall Street Journal).

About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


Level 4, Michie Building (09), St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland