Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Tobias, Phillip Vallentine

South African geneticist, anatomist, and paleontologist; trained as a geneticist, he established the first genetic counseling program in South Africa. Because of this training, Tobias understood the genetic homogeneity of humanity, and was active in anti-apartheid organizations as a student; he later published several papers on this theme, and a monograph, The Meaning of Race (1961). He was placed under house arrest because of his activism. As a student, he led surveys at Kromdraai, Gladysvale, Mwulu’s Cave, Buffalo Cave, and Makapansgat. Appointed lecturer in the anatomy department, Tobias became Dart’s successor at the University of Witwatersrand. Tobias is known for his digs at virtually all South African sites, but especially at Sterkfontein. He has been instrumental in hominid taxonomic studies. During his tenure, more than 500 hominid specimens were catalogued, and he traveled ceaselessly during his career, lecturing worldwide, and promoting the South African collections, which became world famous. He established the Institute for the Study of Man in Africa, guided 50 graduate students to degrees, is a member of numerous professional societies, has received numerous honors including 22 medals (that include the Balzan International Prize in 1987 and the Huxley Medal in 1996), and ten honorary degrees. Tobias was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times. In addition to over 900 scholarly journal publications, he has produced several films and is the author of some 15 books, including Olduvai Gorge, Vol. 2 (1967) and The Brain in Hominid Evolution (1971).

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