At GIPCA’s Great Text / Big Questions lecture on Thursday 28 October ‘The Creature from Planet X: an anatomist looks at science fiction’ Professor Alan Morris of UCT’s Department of Human Biology will explore how science fiction movies like Avatar paint a picture of a possible anatomical reality. This public lecture and discussion starts at 17h00 at Hiddingh Hall, UCT Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town. There is no cost to attend and all are welcome.

Morris, who is both a physical anthropologist and an archaeologist, describes himself as “a self-confessed science fiction special effects junky.” The movie Avatar had a profound effect on him, “the writer/director had not just created a world full of weird creatures, but obeyed the laws of comparative anatomy.”

In his lecture Morris intends to examine the rules of comparative anatomy and how they make an imaginary world come alive. “We have yet to discover another planet with life on it, but when we do it is very likely we will be able to predict the pattern of that life. The best of science fiction recognises this and paints us a picture of possible reality, not just glitzy monsters.”

Morris has published extensively on the origin of anatomically modern humans, and the Later Stone Age, Iron Age and historic populations of Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. He has published on the history of race classification and of physical anthropology in South Africa and on the Canadian involvement in the Anglo-Boer War. Since 1984 he has been an advisor to the Departments of Forensic Medicine at the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch in cases where only bone remains are present and the identification of the individual is uncertain. He has served as expert witness in several court cases.

This will be the last of GIPCA’s Great Texts / Big Questions lectures for 2010. The series of free public lectures, which aims to engender a culture of exchange of ideas and opinions, will resume in 2011.

Alan Morris audio recording available for download.

Start: 28 Oct ’10 5:30 pm

End: 28 Oct ’10 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall 

Phone: +27 21 480 7156 

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa