Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Seminar Archives

On this page you can find information about seminars in this and previous academic years, where available on the database.

Statistics Seminars: From Fossil to Phylogeny: Reconstructing evolutionary history from the palaeontological record

Presented by Martin Smith, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University

2 November 2015 14:00 in CM221

The footprints of evolutionary history are written into the DNA of every living thing, and are impressed into the very bedrock through the 600+ million years of fossil data. Mathematical models and techniques are essential in the analysis of this often tortuous data, and provide a route to recovering the pathway of evolution and thus establishing the branches of the tree of life.

Here I will provide an overview of the principal methods employed in phylogenetics – the inference of evolutionary history. In contrast to the relatively mature techniques available for molecular data, morphological phylogenetics remains relatively unexplored – even though fossils, lacking DNA, can only be interpreted in a morphological framework. I will introduce some of the challenges facing morphological analysis today, and suggest a roadmap to a more sophisticated and mathematically meaningful approach, exploring what is needed to bring the untapped potential of the palaeontological record to bear on the history of life on Earth.

Contact sunil.chhita@durham.ac.uk for more information