The Evolution Solution

A short course sponsored by the California Science Teachers Association and UCMP

Saturday, March 8, 2003
9:00 am–4:00 pm
2040 Valley Life Sciences Building
University of California, Berkeley

This short course consisted of a series of case studies illustrating the importance of evolution in our understanding of biodiversity and behavior, as well as its relevance to our society.




Welcome and Logistics

Understanding Evolution Project
   David Lindberg and Judy Scotchmoor, UC Museum of Paleontology


Plant Evolution and Greenhouse Gases: A 400-Million-Year History of Interactions
A 400-million-year history of plant/climate and plant/atmosphere interactions can give us clues about the influence of increased greenhouse gases on our climate system and the planet’s biodiversity. The fossil record provides examples of how atmospheric and climatic changes have influenced large-scale patterns in plant evolution and ecology through time and allows us to make predictions for the future.
   Jennifer McElwain, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago




Swimming with Baggage—the Evolution of Marine Mammals
Terrestrial plants and animals have returned to the sea numerous times through the history of life. Examples include flowering plants, insects, snails, reptiles, and mammals. Four groups of mammals (whales, seals, sirenians, and otters) have separately returned to the sea during the last 50 million years, each carrying along ancestral baggage as they journeyed back into the ocean.
   David R. Lindberg, UC Museum of Paleontology, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley


Stomatopods: Smashing Their Way Through Time
Two hundred million years ago stomatopod crustaceans evolved one of the fastest and most powerful mechanical weapons in the animal kingdom, a greatly enlarged pair of raptorial appendages. The evolution of these formidable weapons has shaped nearly every aspect of stomatopod biology, including their sensory and communication systems, which mediate agonistic encounters.
   Roy L. Caldwell, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley



Lunch Break

Modern Human Origins and the Fate of the Neanderthals
Fossils and genes indicate that anatomically modern humans had appeared in Africa by 100,000 years ago. They were confined to Africa until about 50,000 years ago, when they spread to Eurasia and replaced the Neanderthals and other non-modern Eurasians. Archaeology shows that the spread was grounded in the development of new behaviors, including ones that allowed much more effective hunting and gathering.
   Richard Klein, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University




Cancer viruses: How Small Divergence in Protein Sequence Makes a Difference
The Papilloma viruses have been human pathogens since our emergence as a species. These viruses cause benign warts, however, a subset are the etiological agents of most cervical cancer. Detailed molecular biology sheds considerable light on how such evolution in a virus family occurs.
   Michael Botchan, Molecular & Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

3:25–4:00 Discussion
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