Karen Sears, University of Illinois, will present “The Developmental Basis of Mammalian Evolution.”
Abstract: Organismal form is the product of a complex suite of interacting developmental processes. Variation in these processes allows mammals to adapt to changing environments, but also generates congenital malformations in humans. Developmental variation therefore presents a unifying concept for evolutionary biology and biomedicine, whose understanding is critical to the success of both fields. The primary research goals of the Sears Lab are to determine how developmental variation within a species produces congenital malformations in humans, and among species generates new evolutionary forms in mammals. In this talk, Dr. Sears will focus on the evolutionary side of this spectrum and discuss recent research into the developmental basis of mammalian limb variation and the evolution of the mammalian middle ear. Dr. Sears will also touch on ongoing and future research on bat dental and sensory adaptations.