Monday 22 June, 2009


From ape to human: Clues about the evolution of the human mind
Celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday and 150 years since the publication of “On the origin of species”

Associate Professor Thomas Suddendorf
School of Psychology,The University of Queensland

How did the human mind evolve? Ever since Darwin, this has been one of the greatest puzzles in science. Since minds do not fossilize, scholars are often looking at our closest surviving relatives for clues. What mental capacities do we share with other apes, what sets us apart and how did this gap come about? This presentation reviews recent research on selected cognitive abilities in apes and discusses how these results can help us reconstruct the evolution of the human mind.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
  • Venue: Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, and Thomas will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions? Contact Lynelle (

Thomas Suddendorf was born and raised in Germany but spend most of his adult life further South.

He completed his Ph.D. in 1998 under supervision of Prof. Michael Corballis at the University of Auckland before taking up a position at The University of Queensland where he is currently Reader in the School of Psychology.

His research interests include the cognitive abilities of primates and young children, and the evolution of the human mind. Of particular interest to him are representational capacities such as those related to understanding of self, time and mind.

Recent publications include ‘The evolution of foresight’ with Michael Corballis (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2007); ‘Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and two-year-old children (Homo sapiens) understand double invisible displacement?’ with Emma Collier-Baker (Journal of Comparative Psychology, 2006); ‘Self-recognition beyond the face’ with Virginia Slaughter and Mark Nielsen (Child Development, 2006), and ‘Foresight and evolution of the human mind’ (Science, 2006).

He recently received the Early Career Award of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Frank A. Beach Award of the American Psychological Association.

Links from the talk

The video shown at the beginning of the talk

United Nations Great Ape Survival Programme (
Jane Goodall Institute (
Australian Orangutan Project (
Gibbon Conservation Alliance (


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