Evolution of Animal Development

EVE 150

An advanced undergraduate/graduate class. Animals show an astonishing variety of body plans, life histories, morphologies and decorations. Yet all of them have evolved from a single common ancestor. How did this happen? What is the molecular basis of animal diversity? How do new structures and organs evolve, and how do old ones acquire new functions? The answers to these and other questions lie at the interface between development and evolution. In this class, we explore the burgeoning field of evolutionary developmental biology, with emphasis on the most recent research.


Lecture 1 Principles of comparative analysis
Lecture 2 A brief history of animals
Lecture 3 The toolkit of animal development
Lecture 4 A case study: HOX genes and animal body plans
Lecture 5 Conservation and change at the molecular level
Lecture 6 Evolution of developmental pathways
Lecture 7 Molecular basis of morphological diversity
Lecture 8 Modularity, dissociation and co-option
Lecture 9 Radical events in evolution
Lecture 10 The origin of evolutionary novelties
Lecture 11 Reconstructing extinct ancestors
Lecture 12 Evolution of sex
Lecture 13 Convergent evolution
Lecture 14 Evolution of gene regulation
Lecture 15 The origin of new genes and gene functions
Lecture 16 Evolution of development among close relatives
Lecture 17 Developmental drift, polyphenisms and ecological developmental biology