Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 11:00am
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Agassiz Room, MCZ, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge

Earth History and Paleobiology Seminar

Nigel Hughes, University of California Riverside, will discuss "Fine Scale Trilobite Paleobiology: Resolving Patterns and Controls of Morphological Variation About the Species." 

Hughes is a morphological paleobiologist and stratigraphic geologist interested in using the fossil record to address a variety of questions in both geology and biology. In addition to extensive work on Himalayan and southeast Asian stratigraphy and tectonics, in which he uses the strength of the fossil record to test various ideas about Himalayan origins, uplift and erosion, he is also interested in patterns of morphological variation in trilobites at low taxonomic levels, and in what we can learn from these about the controls of their growth and development. He will comment on ongoing work on the Silurian trilobite Aulacopleura koninckii, which is something of a model animal for fossil arthropod growth, before reviewing current investigations of the growth and variation in the large, late Cambrian trilobite Dikelocephalus. Although this genus has had a long history of investigation, the advent of both an improved sequence stratigraphic framework for the late Cambrian of the northern Mississippi Valley and geometric morphometric techniques permits a fresh analysis of a genus that James Hall labelled presciently “the remarkable Dikelocephalus”. While new techniques aid significantly in resolving patterns of morphological variation within the genus, interpreting their underlying causes and significance remains challenging. In time-poor systems tracts with good fossil representation the morphological landscape displays certain peaks, but what is most striking is the continuous variation that links quite disparate morphologies. Patterns seen are in accord with the view of natural variation at low taxonomic levels held by Darwin. 

Contact Name: 

Javier Ortega-Hernandez

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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