Collège de France

Michel Brunet

2009 Humanities & Social Change

Michel Brunet is professor and chair de Paléontologie humaine at the Collège de France. Additionally, he is Member of the Institut International de Paléoprimatologie, Evolution et Paléoenvironnements (IPHEP), UMR CNRS 6046, Faculté des Sciences Université de Poitiers. His big break came in Central Africa, during one of his many expeditions searching for fossils: he discovered the skull and several jaws of a late Miocene hominid, whose remains are believed to predate the earliest previously known hominid, Lucy, by more than three million years. Brunet gave it the nickname Tou-maï, meaning “hope of life” in the local Goran language of Chad. What can the remains of a life lived millions of years ago tell us about how we live our lives today – and what does it mean that it originated in Africa? For his work Brunet received the Dan David Prize, given to those whose outstanding research contributes to better understanding the world. Brunet is also a member of the French National Order of Merit and the French Legion of Honour.

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