Research: Early Metazoan Evolution
My focus of research concerns the study of the constraints on evolution, and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity, especially with respect to the construction of the major animal bodyplans in the Cambrian explosion. My work is central to palaeobiology, but is also of great interest to biologists and bioastronomers, as well as the wider community.
In the last few years we have made a series of major contributions to our understanding of the evolution of metazoan body plans, especially with respect to the lophotrochozoans and deuterostomes. The latter super-phylum is the group to which we belong, and in addition to documenting the earliest known fish we now have key data on the earliest evolution of the deuterostomes. Much of this work is based in China, but I also have continuing interests in equivalent material from North America, and Greenland. I am also looking at antecedents of the Cambrian explosion, notably spectacularly well-preserved material from the Ediacaran of Namibia.
Arising from my interest in the Cambrian explosion, my book “Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), on the broad topic of evolutionary convergence, emphasizing the parallel evolution of sensory systems e.g. vision, olfaction, echolocation, and also intelligence, especially int he primates and cetaceans. This book has made a considerable impact, as it throws severe doubt on a number of fashionable presuppositions in evolution.
Older Publications by Prof Simon Conway Morris