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Sierra College explores Galapagos expedition

Evolution talk kicks off 2013-14 lecture series
By: Staff report
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The Sierra College Natural History Museum will present an illustrated lecture, “Collecting Evolution: The untold story of the vindication of Charles Darwin by the 1905-06 Galapagos expedition of the California Academy of Sciences,” by Matthew James at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, in Sewell Hall (room 111) at 5000 Rocklin Road.

For 17 months, from June 1905 to November 1906, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco sent out an expedition of “eight young men” as sailor-scientists on the 89-foot schooner Academy to collect specimens in the Galapagos Islands. Each of the collectors had a scientific specialty: birds, reptiles, plants, insects, fossils, rocks, mammals and seashells. In total, they collected some 75,000 specimens, all still housed in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. The enduring legacy of the 1905-06 expedition encompasses much of what we know about Galápagos today, including plant distribution, giant tortoise taxonomy and David Lack’s concept of Darwin’s finches, which have become the textbook example of evolution in “Darwin’s living outdoor laboratory of evolution.”

James is a paleontologist and professor of geology at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, where he teaches courses on paleontology (including a large-lecture course on dinosaurs), natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, oceanography, general geology, geologic field mapping and the paleontology of the Burgess Shale fossil deposits in British Columbia, Canada.

This presentation is the first of the Sierra College Natural History Museum’s 2013-2014 lecture series. Tickets are available at the door. Prices are general $5, students and seniors $2 and museum members free. All proceeds benefit the Sierra College Natural History Museum. For more information, call the Sierra College Natural History Museum at (916) 660-7926.