OEB 213: Evolutionary convergence, mass extinctions, and the shape of Life

Next offer: Fall 2019

Course summary: Understanding the origin of major animal groups and the composition of the biosphere represents a core objective of evolutionary biology. While molecular techniques allow us to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships between living animal phyla, as well as track the developmental mechanisms behind their morphology, extant diversity offers an incomplete view of the evolution of these organisms. We will examine how processes acting through deep time affect fundamental biodiversity patterns, including topics such as the origin of animals, the rapid diversification of major clades, and the impact of extinction. Our aim is to convey a sense of how evolutionary thinking has changed over the past few decades thanks to a combination of conceptual and technical advances, and to instill a sense of the importance of the animal fossil record as a source of data with a uniquely historical component among the biological sciences.

Requirements: At least one of the following courses, or their equivalent, are encouraged: OEB 51, OEB 53, OEB 56, OEB 181.

Tree of life

Original image sourced from OneZoom Tree of Life Explorer.