Prizes & Awards

Prof. G. Suwa wins the Asahi Prize

  • O. Kondo (Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences)
Figure 1

Prof. Gen Suwa

Professor Gen Suwa, the University Museum and the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the Asahi Prize 2009. He won the Prize for his significant contribution to the past-dozen-year-long research on “the earliest stages of human evolution, including the Adipithecus ramidus”.

Adipithecus ramidus are 4.4-million-year-old fossil hominids, whose physical characteristics and their habitat environments were firstly described as an earliest human group. The finding proved the existence of an ancestral population at the genus level more primitive than our own genus Homo or the genus Asutralopithecus in the human evolution, and against previous predictions, provided exciting evidence that a plausible common ancestor of human and chimpanzees did not resemble any of the extant African apes. The Adipithecus ramidus lived in forests, with their opposable big toes keeping the grasping ability in their foot, while they could stand on two legs and walk on earth.

The Adipithecus ramidus, first discovered as a molar fragment by Prof. Suwa in 1992, including a near-perfect female individual and more than 110 specimens, is an output of the international joint research based on the field investigation in Ethiopia since the 80's. The significance deserves honor of a great scientific breakthrough since Lucy. I am very delighted with this new important scientific knowledge being widely accepted by the public.