Trends in macroevolution

Published on December 31, 2023   28 min

Other Talks in the Series: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology

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Hi everyone my name is Luke Harmon from the University of Idaho and I'm going to talk to you today about trends in macro evolution.
Just as a general overview of my presentation today, I'm going to talk about two main topics. One is about the pace of macro evolution. That is how fast or how slow macro evolution is and can be, and then second, we'll talk about the paradox of stasis, which is a big idea in macro evolution that relates to rates of evolution and how they explain the diversity of life on earth. Let's begin by talking a little bit about the pace of macro evolution. What I want to say before I start here is that I think people often have the wrong idea when they think about the pace of macro evolution.
Part of that idea, I think, comes from the reputation of macro evolution as the study of paleontology. We can think about macro evolution as the study of evolution over long times or deep timescales. Paleontologists study macro evolution by digging up fossils, and here's a picture of some paleontologists digging up fossils.
But what we've learned from macro evolution outside of paleontology, and even some paleontology studies themselves, is that evolution can sometimes be incredibly rapid. This idea of macro evolution crawling along at a tortoises pace is misleading compared to what we know from studying contemporary evolutionary patterns.
To illustrate this idea that macro evolution can be rapid, I want to tell a story about the time that a tanager became a vampire.