Geobiology/EHAP Seminars

These seminars hosted jointly by OEB and EPS bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines that are interested in the relationship between Earth’s chemical evolution and the history of life on it.
2017 Dec 01

Paleobiology Seminar



Haller Hall (Geological Museum 102)


What were the Ediacaran biota? Growth, morphology and phylogeny

Jennifer F. Hoyal Cuthill1,2

1Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan.
2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Discoveries of Precambrian macro-fossils (over 541 million years old) stand among the most remarkable achievements in twentieth century palaeontology. However, the ‘Ediacaran biota’ have proved difficult to relate to living groups, due to their unusual morphology and strange modes of fossilisation. This talk will give an overview of the enigmatic biota from the Ediacaran period and describe recent quantitative analyses of their growth, functional morphology and phylogeny. These new models reveal close links between Ediacaran macro-fossils and the more familiar animals and ecology of the Cambrian period.


The EHAP/Geobiology Seminar Series is jointly hosted by OEB and EPS.

2016 Nov 14

Special Geobiology Seminar



Haller Hall (Geological Museum 102)
Cryoconite ponds: implications for climate, chemistry and life on Snowball Earth"
Paul Hoffman
Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Emeritus
Dept. of Earth and Planetary SciencesHarvard University
*Geobiology/Paleobiology seminars are jointly hosted by OEB and EPS
2016 Oct 18

Paleobiology Seminar



Haller Hall (Geology Museum 102)

The Geobiology/Paleobiology Seminar Series is jointly hosted by OEB and EPS

"Mass extinctions, the spatial fossil record, and how paleoecology may help save the planet" by Simon Darroch (Vanderbilt University)
A critical challenge for paleontologists in the 21st Century is deciding how to use the fossil record to generate tools relevant to the current biodiversity crisis - the ‘6th mass extinction’. Here, I argue that too much effort has been spent on comparing current rates of species loss with those extrapolated from the past, because species may not need to be extinct for ecosystems to collapse – they may only need to be rare. Instead, the spatial components of past extinctions (changes in geographic range sizes, as well as emergent properties such as beta diversity) may provide a better metric for comparing between modern and ancient crises. Lastly, I discuss evidence for an Ediacaran-Cambrian (~542 Ma) mass extinction – the ‘first mass extinction of complex life’. Unlike the Phanerozoic ‘Big Five’, this extinction may have been driven by evolutionary innovation, ecosystem engineering and biological interactions, providing a powerful analogue for the present day.... Read more about Paleobiology Seminar