Fossil Ants and the Dawn of Phylogenomics

The Paleontological Society of Washington

7:00 pm, Wednesday, February 17

Q?rius theatre, National Museum of Natural History, Constitutional Ave. entrance

Fossil Ants and the Dawn of Phylogenomics

John S. LaPolla

Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, MD

Over the past two decades, studies have shown that not only did ants extend as far back as the Cretaceous, but during that time they were morphologically, and presumably behaviorally and ecologically diverse. Fossil studies have also shown that the ecological dominance of ants seen today was likely achieved in the Eocene. Simultaneously, our understanding of ant phylogeny has changed dramatically, underpinned by large molecular datasets, casting into doubt many long held conclusions about evolutionary relationships among the ants based solely on morphological data. Combined with molecular studies of extant ants, the exploration of the ant fossil record has provided us an exciting window into the evolutionary narrative of the ants and is likely to continue to reveal novel, and unexpected, results.

Non-Smithsonian visitors will be escorted to the Q?rius theatre at 6:45 and 6:55 p.m. Society members will host the speaker for dinner at the Elephant & Castle (1201 Pennsylvania Ave.) prior to the meeting. Members may meet at the restaurant or inside the Constitutional Ave. entrance of the NMNH at 5:00 and walk to the restaurant as a group.


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