Wednesday 14th March, 2012
Prof. Ken Higgs (UCC) will present a lecture:
Evolution of the first Tetrapods – a conflict of evidence
VENUE: Room 4, Dept. of Geology, Muesum Building, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2.
The colonisation of land by vertebrate animals was a momentous event in the history of life. Amphibians were the first vertebrates to walk on land, and the earliest amphibians are called Tetrapods. There is conflicting fossil evidence of when, where and how tetrapods first evolved. The evidence from sketetal remains supports the traditional view of vertebrate palaeontologists that the fish-tetrapod transition took place in the Upper Devonian period and that it occurred in a continental freshwater setting. However, recent evidence from tetrapod footprints found in Middle Devonian rocks found in Ireland and in Poland indicate that tetrapods evolved much earlier (probably in the Lower Devonian). Additionally the Polish footprints suggest the fish-tetrapod transition took place in the marine – intertidal environment. The details of these new finds from Ireland and Poland will be described.
Prof. Ken Higgs
In 1986, he was appointed as Lecturer in the Department of Geology at University College Cork, teaching in the fields of Palaeontology and Stratigraphy. Promoted to Statutory (Senior) Lecturer of the National University Ireland in 1990 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2002. He has been acting Head of the Geology Department at UCC in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He has established a Palynology research laboratory and research group of international standing at UCC. Professor Higgs is an international expert on Devonian and Carboniferous palynology and his principal area of palynological research is the application of palynology in biostratigraphy, evolution and palaeoenvironmental studies. The palynological research group has been very active at both postgraduate and postdoctoral level. He has supervised, and directed 26 research projects at PhD, MSc and Post-Doctoral research levels that have covered a range of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic palynology topics. He has eighty peer reviewed publications. Virtually all of the research has been funded by external grants obtained from a variety of sources such as Irish Government¿s Basic Science research scheme, the Higher Education / Industry Co-operation research programmes, and the Petroleum Infrastructure ).
In recent years he has developed a strong research interest in the evolution of Devonian and Carboniferous terrestrial ecoystems. This research is multidisciplinary and involves the integration of palaeontology, sedimentology, geochronology / geochemistry and in some cases structural geology. This work involves collaboration with both national and international researchers.