Dr. Sean B. Carroll, author and biologist, packed the theater in the Richard J. Ernst Cultural Community Center with students, faculty and community members on October 23 for his “Endless Forms Most Beautiful? The Making of the Animal Kingdom” presentation.
Carroll, whose recent book “Brave Genius” was released in September 2013, spoke to the audience about evolutionary developmental biology, or Evo Devo for short. Using multimedia, he showed the audience the foundation of his research on the evolution of the animal kingdom.
Carroll used his recent studies into different types of butterflies to emphasize how species in the animal kingdom are made up of the same genes but use those genes to develop differently. During his presentation, he shared the three rules of Evo Devo. First, looks are deceiving and we were fooled. Most animals are built using similar sets of genes. Secondly, diversity is not a matter of the genes species have, but how they use them during development. Finally, changes in form largely arise through changes in genetic switches.
“We all have similar genes. We use them in different ways,” Carroll said. “The changes are in the DNA, alterations in development and the evolution of form, and the rules apply across the animal kingdom.”
Before completing his presentation, Carroll highlighted the importance of preserving and protecting wildlife, as recent studies have shown that 50 years ago there were reportedly 400,000 lions compared to about 30,000 today after the disappearance of the animal in 26 countries.
Carroll is a molecular biology and genetics professor at the University of Wisconsin and the vice president for science education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has published several books, including his most recent “Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo” (W.W. Norton & Company). Carroll took questions from the audience after his presentation and was available to sign copies of his book in the lobby of the theater.
During her introduction of Carroll, Reva Savkar, chemistry professor and Annandale Science Seminars Committee chair, thanked the committee, the Annandale Lyceum Committee and her colleagues for their assistance and support in organizing the event.
Copies of Carroll’s book were made available for purchase during the time of the event and light refreshments were served. To find out more about how you can help preserve and protect wildlife, go online.