||Two acclaimed scientists to lecture on evolution of marine mammals
RELEASED: October 16, 2008
Gingerich will give a lecture titled "Origin and Early Evolution of Whales: A Profound Transition from Land to Sea" on Monday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Weisiger Theater on campus. This lecture is free and open to the public.
Gingerich discovered fossils of early whales unexpectedly in Pakistan in the 1970s, and since then, his fieldwork in Pakistan and Egypt have yielded what he calls "important intermediate forms documenting the origin and early origin of whales."
"I'm interested in understanding how evolution as a process acting on generation-to-generation scales of time yields the microevolutionary and macroevolutionary patterns we observe on longer historical and geological scales of time," Gingerich says.
In 2001, Gingerich was a scientific adviser to a TV series titled "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts."
A convocation on a complementary subject will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 22, when Dr. Jesse Purdy of Southwestern University will present his award-winning documentary, "The World of Weddell Seals," and give his talk titled "Umwelt: Exploring the Self-Worlds of Human and Non-Human Animals." Purdy's presentation will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Vahlkamp Theatre on campus. The event is free and open to the public.
"Umwelt" is a term coined in 1934 and refers to an animal's unique self-world. To truly understand an animal's behavior and its adaptive evolution, Purdy says, it's important to understand that animal's unique umwelt. The animal's world and its mind are inseparable, because it's the mind that interprets the world and drives behavior.
Purdy will discuss the many ways in which the concept of umwelt is still impacting the modern study of human behavior. According to Purdy, the umwelt concept can help us better understand our own behavior.
“Knowing more about a fellow human’s self world and having a better understanding of a person’s behavior can increase tolerance,” Purdy says.
Purdy has studied the learning capacity of cuttlefish (the "smartest" invertebrate), the sounds of killer whales, and Weddell seals in the Antarctic. His work was featured on the Discovery Channel’s program called the World of Wonder.
"A couple of months on an uninhabited island observing killer whales is good therapy," Purdy says. "If you value nature, constantly wonder how things work, and are interested in questions about the brain and intelligence, comparative psychology may be for you."
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