SICB Annual Meeting 2018
January 3-7, 2018
San Francisco, CA

Symposium: From small and squishy to big and armored: Genomic, ecological and paleontological insights into the early evolution of animals

The origin of animals and their early evolutionary history—culminating in the Cambrian ‘explosion’ when essentially all animal phyla appear in the fossil record within the geologically short span of ~20 million years—is one of the most exciting interdisciplinary topics in the biological sciences. Understanding why and how animals made the transition to multicellularity in the Tonian (~800 million years ago), and then suddenly appeared in the fossil record ~540 million years ago at the base of the Cambrian requires insights from phylogenetics, comparative genomics and morphology, evolutionary developmental biology, ecology, paleontology, and geochemistry. This symposium will explore these interdisciplinary questions with talks by experts in diverse fields from all over the world.




1. Nicole King (University of California, Berkeley), Professor - Choanoflagellates and the transition to multicellularity
2. Selene Fernandez Valverde (Laboratorio Nacional de Genomica para la Biodiversidad), Group Leader - Sponge genomics and small RNAs
3. Nick Butterfield (University of Cambridge), Professor - Paleoecology of early animal ecosystems
4. Joe Ryan (Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience), Assistant Professor - Comparative genomics of early-diverging animal lineages
5. Jordi Paps (University of Oxford), Senior Research Associate - Phylogenetics of the Metazoa and their relatives
6. David Gold (California Institute of Technology) - The evolution and adaptation of jellyfish in Precambrian oceans
7. Erik Sperling (Stanford University), Assistant Professor - The temporal and environmental context of early animal evolution
8. Sally Leys (University of Alberta), Professor - TBA
9. Andrew H. Knoll and P.U.P.A. Gilbert (Harvard University) - Cambrian skeletons: Mechanisms, evolutionary implications and geobiological consequences
10. Lidya Tarhan (Yale University) - Ecological innovation in the late Ediacaran
11. Jean-Bernard Caron (Royal Ontario Museum) - The origin of phyla - insights from the Burgess Shale