NIU Carving out a Niche in Anthropology, Paleontology

Article excerpt

Professor Michael Parrish likes to think of Northern Illinois University's anthropology and biology departments as some of academia's best-kept secrets.

There's is just one problem with that: the secrets are out.

With today's announcement of significant evolutionary findings by NIU professor Dan Gebo, the university once again is earning national recognition for cutting-edge work.

His discoveries add to a long list of major accomplishments in scientific research by NIU faculty in recent years.

"The amount of attention their work has received is not typical for a university this size," said Fred Smith, chair of NIU's anthropology department. "This is the level of notoriety more typical of the University of Chicago or Harvard."

Smith is one of the reasons for that.

He drew national attention last year for discovering the youngest Neanderthal remains and drawing surprising conclusions from it.

Smith theorized that primitive man and modern humans co-existed for thousands of years in central Europe and may have mated.

Parrish, chair of the university's biology department, is becoming another star on NIU's campus in DeKalb. …