Cafe Scientifique Orlando is a gathering of scientifically-inclined people in Central Florida, who meet at a cafe, coffee house, pub, or nonacademic location to discuss events and ideas in the world of science. We enjoy beer and wine, and we use plain language to talk about extraordinary ideas.

The Cambrian Explosion

Presenter: 
Werner, John
When: 
Wednesday, 3 August 2011 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Venue: 
Taste
Where: 
Taste
Street:
717 W. Smith Street
City:
Orlando
,
Province:
Florida
Postal Code:
32804
Country:
United States

The Cambrian “Explosion” is a colorful name sometimes given to the adaptive radiation of animals with bilateral symmetry, seen in the early Cambrian period, approximately 540 to 510 million years ago. This critical span in life’s history has been a topic of keen interest for not only scientists but also many nonscientists ever since the publication of Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould (1989). In that provocative work, Gould emphasized the bizarre morphology and problematic taxonomy of some of the invertebrate fossils of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. In the twenty-plus years that have followed, new discoveries from the fossil record and the living world have been producing a better picture of early animal evolution, shedding light on the origins of some of the major branches on the animal tree of life (including arthropods, mollusks, and vertebrates). Furthermore, the explosiveness of this adaptive radiation has been defused by improvements in the record of Early Cambrian and Neoproterozoic (pre-Cambrian) fossils. Proposed causes of the Cambrian radiation are numerous and varied; in this talk we will explore the merits of the most prominent ideas.

John Werner has been a professor of Earth Sciences in the Physical Sciences Department at Seminole State College since 2003. He obtained a B.S. in geology from the California Institute of Technology and an M.S. and Ph.D. in geology (concentration in invertebrate paleontology) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at UIUC, he earned that school’s highest award for undergraduate teaching. At Seminole State, he has originated three courses in geology, including Fossils and the History of Life.

Past Café Scientifique Events

Cloud Computing 13 May, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Nanoscience 8 April, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Fire Ants 11 March, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Food Preservation 5 March, 2014 - 19:00 Eden Bar at...
Marine Mammals 11 February, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Bees 14 January, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Frankenfood 10 December, 2013 - 18:30 downtown library
Global Elemental Cycles 4 December, 2013 - 19:00 Downtown Credo
Weather 12 November, 2013 - 18:00 downtown library
Medical Geography 6 November, 2013 - 19:00 Taste
3D Printing 8 October, 2013 - 18:00 downtown library
Brain on a Chip 2 October, 2013 - 19:00 Taste

Topics We'd Love to See

What are some topics you’d like to have? Tell us in your comments below. See our full schedule to know what we’ve had and plan to have, before adding something new.

Additionally, if you are a scientific expert interested in presenting a topic, please email us.

8 comments.