Prominent British Paleontologist to Speak at Baylor

April 16, 2007

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Renowned around the world for his research into early evolution and paleobiology, Dr. Simon Conway Morris will speak at Baylor University about the Cambrian "explosion" and his work as it relates to the famous Burgess Shale and similar deposits found around the world. Conway Morris, a professor of evolutionary paleobiology at the University of Cambridge, focuses his research on the constraints of evolution and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity.

"Darwin was deeply puzzled by the Cambrian explosion, but should we be also," Conway Morris said of his lecture. "There is dramatic new evidence from both the Burgess Shale and similar deposits in China and Greenland that reveal how animal bodyplans are constructed. All the evidence points to a geological rapid event, but what triggered it is still open to debate."

Conway Morris will present his lecture at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 24, in the Baylor Sciences Building room B110. A more technical lecture will be given that morning, April 24, at 10 a.m. in room C206.

"We are delighted to have arguably the most influential paleontologist of our time come to Baylor," said Dr. Lee Nordt, a geology professor and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor. "This will be a unique opportunity for both our faculty and students to hear about and to discuss a number of important issues related to evolutionary biology."

Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, Conway Morris has been awarded the Walcot Medal of the National Academy of Sciences and the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London. A critic of Intelligent Design, he has written several well-known and respected books on early evolution. He is currently writing a book on evolutionary convergence, which will explore the parallel evolution of sensory systems like vision.

For more information, contact Dr. Truell Hyde at (254) 710-3763.

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