A guest lecture by Dr. John Gatesy at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands will explore the evolution of the blue whale. The evening program, scheduled for Wednesday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. is open to the public at no charge.
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the longest, heaviest, and loudest living mammal and expresses a remarkable series of adaptations to life at sea. This species can engulf more than 40 tons of water, one half of its body weight or more, in a single filter-feeding bout. Darwin speculated on the evolution of whales in On the Origin of Species, but critical evidence bearing on this topic was limited until recent decades, which have seen a rapid influx of information from genomics and the fossil record. Statistical analyses of modern data imply an evolutionary blueprint that outlines the long sequence of changes that resulted in a blue whale. The transition from early terrestrial ancestors to semi-aquatic forms to fully-aquatic whales required major reorganizations of anatomy and genes over 60 million years. Gatesy will present a compelling reconstruction of this major macro-evolutionary transition.
Gatesy, who earned his doctorate at Yale University, is a professor in the Department of Biology at the University of California, Riverside. His research centers on the reconstruction of evolutionary history through the combination of genetic and fossil data. By merging these two very different types of information, detailed accounts of the distant past offer insights into the timing and pattern of major evolutionary transitions.
The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. Parking is free. For more information, visit http://www.co.san-bernardino.ca.us/museum/. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 or (TDD) 909-792-1462.