The Origins of life on Earth

Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

1:30pm - 3:30pm

Lecture by:
Alan Morgan

Life appeared on Earth less than one billion years after the planet was formed. Starting from bacteria of various types and evolving through cyanobacterial mats (stromatolites) that produced the oxygen we need to survive through photosynthesis. Advanced multicellular fossils appeared in latest Precambrian time (less than 1,000 million years ago). About 600 million years ago a diverse group of organisms preceded the explosion of life on Earth at the start of Cambrian time some 540 million years ago. A plethora of life on land followed with the first terrestrial plants, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and mammals. This talk outlines some of the developments and setbacks of life on Earth.

About The Lecturer

Alan Morgan

Alan Morgan became interested in geology at the age of eight, and this was promoted with his first “expedition” to Iceland in 1960 when he was 17. His interest in photography that commenced when he was given a Brownie box camera in 1951 was further enhanced by his Icelandic experience with a 35mm camera and has served as the foundation for the many illustrated talks that he and his wife Anne have used to explain various topics to different audiences.

Alan went on to be educated at the universities of Leicester, Calgary and Birmingham. He began lecturing at the University of Waterloo in 1971, retiring in 2009, but continued teaching to 2011 and is now an adjunct and emeritus professor in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo.

Alan’s first venture into public awareness of science was 45 years ago when he and Anne made a CBC documentary for “The Nature of Things” about the 1973 Heimaey Eruption, in Iceland. Over his career he has presented over 1,500 public lectures at local, national and international venues, speaking on a broad spectrum of subjects, ranging from geology to history, natural history, biology, travel, gardening and climate change. These have won him a number of awards from the Royal Society of Canada and from the Geological Association of Canada for outstanding efforts in communicating science to the public. He has also received teaching awards from the University of Waterloo, the National Association of American Geology Teachers, and culminating with the prestigious 3M Canadian National Teaching Award in 2010. Locally, Alan, like Anne, is also a recipient of a “Waterloo Award” from the City of Waterloo.

Since retirement Alan and Anne have continued to travel extensively. Most recently they have made several trans-continental forays while Alan has rafted the Grand Canyon and visited Antarctica in recent years.

Alan’s talks combine his passion for geology, geography, travel, natural history and photography. The lecture series is titled: “Shake, Rattle and Roll: – Our Restless World”.