Morphology and function are of wide interest to paleontologists and evolutionary biologists, and are particularly timely topics in the light of new discoveries in evolutionary development. In April 2005 over 100 colleagues, researchers and students gathered at Yale University for "Evolving Form and Function: Fossils and Development," a symposium to celebrate the contributions of Adolf Seilacher, one of the most influential paleontologists of the latter half of the 20th century. Sponsored by the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Yale's departments of Geology and Geophysics and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the two-day symposium honored Professor Seilacher on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
Evolving Form and Function: Fossils and Development, edited by Derek E. G. Briggs, Director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies and Professor of Geology and Geophysics, brings together a distinguished group of contributors to review the evolution of form and function. These papers treat the full range of taxa from plants to vertebrates, and cover the major events in the evolution of many-celled organisms from the origin of body plans, through the extraordinary Ediacara fossils, to the diversification of invertebrates and the invasion of land and air by the vertebrates. The studies use of a variety of evidence from extinct and living organisms, from both the fossil record and evolutionary development.
The book begins with an appreciation of Professor Seilacher's contribution to the science of form and function, and concludes with his own original contribution on convergence and constraint in the evolution of soft bottom-dwelling invertebrates. The chapters are written in an accessible style designed to appeal to students as well as specialists. Evolving Form and Function: Fossils and Development promises to be a valuable source for research and teaching in both paleontology and evolutionary biology.