In The Field

Burgess Shale Centenary: Cambrian sillies

I’m writing this after a few drinks (which, as you’ll soon see, is perfectly appropriate) and after being inspired by Simon Conway Morris’s talk on the origin of body plans. I wish I could do Conway Morris’s talk justice in this blog – he is an eloquent, and funny, speaker. Suffice it to say that he recounted some of his arguments against Gould (read about that here); fought back, good-naturedly, at several other speakers at this conference who have called him wrong about some particular matters of creature identification; threatened to drink a bottle of commemorative ‘Shale Ale’ whilst at the podium in spite of Canada’s draconian laws against drinking in public; and responded to one confession of love. Of course, he also addressed some serious points of biology, concluding that perhaps, “at long last, biology is going to become predictable”. There’s one prediction I would bet money against. 

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