Anthropologist to explain hardships, excitement of recent fossil discoveries during TEDxCLE talk

Yohannes Haile-Selassie has been making worldwide news recently, thanks to his latest fossil discovery that showed the famous early human ancestor “Lucy” had a close cousin—another pre-human species that existed at the same time and in the same region as Lucy but with a different method of locomotion. But this week, he’ll make headlines locally as a speaker at the TEDxCLE event, held April 20 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

As one of 13 speakers at TEDxCLE, Haile-Selassie, an adjunct professor of anthropology, anatomy and cognitive sciences and the curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, will discuss his latest research in front of a sold-out crowd of inspired Clevelanders. Haile-Selassie is among four Case Western Reserve University community members who were selected to speak at the third annual TEDxCLE event.

TEDxCLE is an independently organized TED event in which speakers and community members combine to spark discussion and bring Cleveland’s “innovation, development and positive change to the world,” according to the event’s website,

In his talk, Haile-Selassie will discuss the hardships—and excitement—associated with the search for fossil remains of early human ancestors, he said. He also wants to help attendees understand why the Afar region of Ethiopia is such a prominent place to find human ancestor fossils.

Haile-Selassie joined colleagues in the Afar region to begin conducting research 24 years ago. The groundbreaking discovery on Lucy’s “cousin” was published in the March 29 issue of the journal Nature. The partial foot they uncovered is the first evidence for the presence of at least two pre-human species with different modes of locomotion contemporaneously living in eastern Africa around 3.4 million years ago.

Haile-Selassie said he hopes his talk—and other TEDxCLE talks—will help highlight the collaborative, high-quality research done on and around campus. “Such talks might help the community realize that high-profile research into our very origins is being conducted in the Cleveland area, particularly in University Circle,” he said. “There is a lot of collaboration, which is the basis for high-quality education and innovation, among the various institutions within the Circle.”

For more information on TEDxCLE, visit