Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Walcott 2009 day two

I can see I'm going to have to write a little tonight and post more later in the trip. These scientists go all day, even more than College Art, although they don't put the avant garde at 8:30 pm. We found the blogger from Nature: she is Nicola Jones, journalist, adjunct professor at UBC school of journalism and blogs here

Saving space here, I'm just going to mention the wonderfully inspiring keynote talks by Douglas Erwin and Nicholas Butterfield. Erwin, whom we have been reading in articles provided by Nicole Killebrew, one of our naturalist supervisors at the Seattle Aquarium, seems to be pulling together some ideas across the field regarding development, ecosystem engineering and niche construction.

Butterfield, who may have been easier for me to understand since he spoke after dinner, is interested in broad views of fossils, especially their microstructure to synthesize resolutions to taxonomic issues. We had absolutely no idea that wiwaxia was controversial. It's everywhere (that's comforting): almost no middle Cambrian shale which doesn't have it. Apparently wiwaxia is not a polychaete worm, nor a mollusk. Previously Desmond Collins showed a "frolicking" wiwaxia, and Butterfield had some really breathtaking images of wiwaxia and other fossils, many prepared to show their microstructure.

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