Peter Holland lectures on the diversity of animals

So far I’ve watched only about 30 minutes of this brand-new (virtual) lecture on the diversity of animals by Professor Peter Holland of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, but it looks to be good. Not long ago I read his The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction, one of Oxford’s lovely small paperbacks to introduce people to new fields. It was an excellent read, despite my initial worries that a short book couldn’t begin to cover that topic.

Holland is a clear and eloquent lecturer, and his slides are very good as well.


Holland puts his talk within the framework of Darwin’s theory of evolution, laying out the evidence for evolution Darwin mustered in The Origin, and segues into one of his interested: evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo).

Here’s the lecture summary:

When we think of evolution, the first person that springs to mind is Charles Darwin. In The Origin of Species (1859), Darwin presented evidence supporting evolution, proposed the useful metaphor of an evolutionary ‘tree’, and suggested an underlying mechanism: natural selection acting on variation. But there were still big questions, such as the shape of the tree (who is more closely related to whom?) and the nature of inherited variation (what are variants or mutations?)

In this talk, Professor Peter Holland explored how animal evolution is studied in the 21st century, with a focus on remarkable new insights we are gaining from molecular biology and genome sequencing.

h/t: Matthew Cobb


  1. Posted July 2, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink


  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    A really interesting video. All of us with just basic college biology and zoology should watch this.

  3. Debra Coplan
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Very informative video. Thank you for posting.

  4. Steve Frank
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Great lecture. Thanks for posting.

  5. Posted July 2, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I am enjoying it, and will consider some for my (now sadly online) lectures.
    He is using a traditional tree where the Placozoa and Cnidaria are grouped into the base of the animal tree along with sponges. That are lately various arguments that some of these very simple animals are actually much ‘higher’ in the tree, but are now highly degenerate.

  6. Posted July 2, 2020 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    It is a really good lecture and, for me, comes from just the right perspective. I’m only halfway through but I’ll watch the rest tomorrow.

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