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Seminar 22/11: Daniel Field

posted Nov 16, 2017, 5:16 AM by Allison Hsiang
Our next SPG talk will be next Wednesday (Nov. 22) and given by Daniel Field, who is a 50th Anniversary Prize Fellow in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at Bath. Daniel will speak about phylogenetic and biogeographic applications to understanding avian palaeobiology.

Please note that this seminar will be held in the Vintergatan conference room, rather than in the usual location.

Title: Birds, Fossils, and Lingering Question Marks: New Frontiers in Avian Phylogenetic Palaeobiology
Date: November 22, 2017
Time: 15:00-16:00
Place: Vintergatan conference room (map; upper level meeting rooms)

Abstract: Birds are among the most diverse and ubiquitously distributed tetrapod clades; they inhabit a myriad of different environments, and exhibit incredible disparity in their forms and lifestyles. Unraveling how, when, and why this diversity has arisen demands an appeal to the fossil record of crown birds (Neornithes), as fossils provide us with the only direct evidence of neornithine evolutionary history. Additionally, understanding the origins of the features that make birds unique—such as feather-assisted flight—forces us to look outside of Neornithes to the avian stem lineage, where the nature, timing, and order of character transformations are only accessible through fossils. I will discuss recent macroevolutionary advances related to crown birds and their close relatives among non-avian dinosaurs, covering questions like “How did the ancestors of modern birds survive the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event that eliminated their stem-group relatives?”, and “How and why have the biogeographic distributions of modern bird groups changed throughout their evolutionary history?”, with an appeal for the development of analytical methods suited to accommodating the complexity of macroevolutionary patterns revealed by the fossil record.