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AAAS plenary: Intrepid explorers and the search for the origin of species

February 13, 2009 -- MADISON - Evolution, we know, is the guiding thread of biology and explains life as we know it.

But how that big idea was inspired and expanded over two centuries of natural history is really a tale of the adventures of a handful of intrepid scientists whose derring-do, perseverance and intellectual curiosity sparked a revolution that forever changed our view of the living world.

Those heroic tales wind through the jungles of the Amazon, the African savanna and the Malay Archipelago in an age when the history of our planet, of life and of the human species was virtually unknown. Those adventures will be brought to life in the telling of the story of the origins of evolutionary thought in "Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species," the Friday, Feb. 13, plenary lecture at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.

Leading evolutionary biologist and author Sean Carroll, a professor of genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the guide for a multimedia encounter with giant sloths, gaudy butterflies and the most remarkable creatures of all: the explorers and scientific visionaries Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry W. Bates.

"The talk is a celebration of the accomplishments of these amazing people who explored the wild and changed our view of life," says Carroll, whose most recent book shares the title of his plenary lecture. "I will tell the stories of three pioneers who deserve our admiration - young adventurers who took great risks and made great discoveries."

Source : University of Wisconsin-Madison

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