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Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

February 9, 2012
Susan Banovetz | Director of External Affairs | 218 726-6141|
Christiana Kapsner | UMD Public Relations Assistant | 218 726-8830 |

4th Annual UMD Darwin Day Lecture Series

UMD Doctoral StudentsUMD Doctoral Students
The Department of Geological Sciences and the Department of Biology at UMD are celebrating the 4th annual Darwin Day lecture series on evolution on Friday, February 10, 2012 at 3:15 p.m. in room 185 of the UMD Life Science building. Visiting Professor Shuhai Xiao will present "Animal Evolution in the Wake of a Snowball Earth and on the Eve of the Cambrian Explosion." Xiao is a professor from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) Department of Geosciences.

Professor Xiao's presentation is based on a summary of his research on the environment and evolution of complex organism during late Precambrian time. For nearly 3 ½ billion years life on Earth consisted of single-celled cyanobacteria, algae-like organisms. Suddenly about 550 million years ago there was an explosion of species with hard-body parts comprising most of the major groups of animals. The transition from single-celled organisms to multi-celled hard-bodies is poorly understood because large soft-bodied animals do not preserve well. The Doushantuo Formation in China, one of the areas that Dr. Xiao and his colleagues have studied extensively, contains extraordinary fossils such as animal embryos and multicellular algae. Dr. Xiao and his research team are rewriting the history of this critical period of animal evolution.

"Shuhai Xiao is a leading expert with the Doushantuo Formation," said Howard Mooers, professor of UMD geosciences and director of the UMD Planetarium. "We are thrilled to have him visit our campus to share his findings. The amazing study and research of the switch from single-celled to multi-celled life has uncovered a wealth of information for scientists and researchers world-wide."

Dr. Xiao's research has appeared in national publications such as Nature, Journal of Paleontology, Geology, and Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

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