Functional Constraints on the Evolution of Eye Morphology – A Deep Look Into the Eyes of Dinosaurs and Teleost Reef Fishes

A Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Seminar Series featuring Lars Schmitz, W.M. Keck Science Dept, Claremont McKenna College

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
2320 Life Sciences Building


I will describe recent efforts investigating the role of functional constraints on the evolution and diversification of visual morphology. The visual system is an ideal case for testing hypotheses about the origins of diversity, because the eye is a complex structure with multiple components, each with specific functional implications. As the physical requirements of vision are clearly defined, one can study morphological and functional adaptations to environments and behaviors that impose divergent physical challenges. In four case studies I will describe how ecology may drive the evolution of eye size, eye shape, and retina structure in such disparate groups as dinosaurs, teleost reef fish, mammals, and squid. A central part of my talk will deal with the possibility of using the linkage between form and function of the eye to make inferences about the diel activity patterns of fossil vertebrates. The results underline that the vertebrate eye offers a rich system for tests of hypotheses about the causes of diversity and is a key to a better understanding of the dynamics between physics and evolution, even though many questions need further investigation.

Host: David Jacobs

Refreshments will be served at 11:40 a.m.