University of Oregon honors Charles Darwin

Darwin Day, an international celebration, commemorates the birth of Charles Darwin on Feb. 12, 1809. Organized events honoring Darwin’s contributions to science have been held since shortly after his death. The day is also used to promote the scientific process and recent scientific contributions.

This year, the University of Oregon, partnered with the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, hosted two guest lecturers, Nick Famoso and Jack Tseng. This continues UO’s tradition of hosting Darwin Day talks.

Famoso’s lecture, “New Views on the Fossil Record: In the Shadow of Volcanoes” was held Feb. 10 explored the evolution of species in volcanic ecosystems throughout time and around the world.

Tseng’s lecture was called “Fossil Dogs and the Search for Evolutionary Optimality.”

Tseng presented research on the evolution of dogs and related animals. He talked about evolutionary possibilities — outcomes that may have not been realized by nature. Analyzing the history of evolution, Tseng also looked to the future. He used computer simulations to create models of potential skull structures based on a couple of factors, shock absorption and jaw strength. This tool allowed him to visualize how and if evolutionary trends approached an optimum form.

Over 100 community members and university students turned out to attend the lectures.