Early Animal Life

The Agouron Institute hosted a symposium in October 2012 titled “The Comings and Goings of Animal Life on Earth.” The organizers of this meeting were Donald Canfield (U Southern Denmark) and Woodward Fischer (Caltech). As an educational tool, the speakers have agreed to provide their abstracts with references to post on our website. Please contact the authors if you wish to use any content presented here. Click on the session to view the abstracts.

Opening Session
The Day the Mesozoic Died – Film and discussion
Sean B. Carroll (HHMI and U Wisconsin)

“The Comings”

Session 1 – The Earliest Animals – Andrew Knoll, session chairman
Opening remarks
John Abelson, President of the Agouron Institute

Fossils of the Ediacara biota and what they can tell us about animal evolution
Mary L. Droser (UC Riverside)

How did the earliest animals make ATP? Clues from the anaerobic mitochondria of modern forms
William F. Martin (U Düsseldorf)

Choanoflagellate colony development as a simple model for animal multicellularity
Nicole King (UC Berkeley)

The Cambrian Explosion: Animals or Fossils?
Kevin J. Peterson (Dartmouth U)

Session 2 – The Big Bang: The Cambrian Explosion – Woody Fischer, session chairman
A conceptual framework for understanding the Cambrian explosion and the major (and very hard) questions it raises
Charles R. Marshall (UC Berkeley)

The Cambrian Conundrum: testing models of evolutionary innovation
Douglas H. Erwin (Smithsonian Institution & Santa Fe Institute)

The Burgess Shale, a ‘geologist’s paradise’ revisited
Jean-Bernard Caron (Royal Ontario Museum)

Assembling and tracking early animal-dominated marine communities: The Sirius Passet Lagerstätte (lower Cambrian), North Greenland
David A. T. Harper (Durham U)

The origin and evolution of the arthropods
Graham E. Budd (Uppsala U)

“The Goings”

Session 3 – Mass extinctions in Earth history – Douglas Erwin, session chairman
Mass extinctions: discontinuities in the history of life
Andrew M. Bush (U Conn)

The Late Ordovician Mass Extinction: stable isotopes, sea level, stratigraphy and selectivity
Seth Finnegan (UC Berkeley)

End-Permian Mass Extinction in the Oceans: An Ancient Analog for the Twenty-First Century?
Jonathan Payne (Stanford U)

The comings after the goings: geography, timing and mechanisms of recovery from the KT mass extinction
Pincelli M. Hull (Yale U)

The Late Quaternary Extinction
Paul Koch (UC Santa Cruz)

Session 4 – Mechanisms of mass extinctions – Don Canfield, session chairman
Physiology and Extinction Events
Andrew H. Knoll (Harvard U)

Diverse Events, Triggers and Kill Mechanisms: The Search for Causes of Mass Extinction
Richard K. Bambach (Smithsonian Institution)

Early Life History Bottlenecks: How Thinking Holistically Helps to Understand Extinction
Paul H. Dunn (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research)

Is Earth Approaching a Tipping Point? Using the Past to Forecast Biodiversity’s Future
Elizabeth A. Hadly (Stanford U)