George Gaylord Simpson Prize - 2008
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Jakob Vinther
Jakob Vinther

2008 Recipient

Jakob Vinther

Jakob Vinther, Peter Van Roy and Derek E.G. Briggs. 2008. Machaeridians are palaeozoic armoured annelids. Nature 451:185-188. Online Version

I am from Denmark and have been interested in fossils and evolution since I was a kid. My research focuses on the radiation of animals at the beginning of the Cambrian (540 million years ago), on how mollusks and annelids diversified to the groups we know today. I incorporate both molecular biology and fossils from the Yale Peabody Museum collections in my research to reconstruct the tempo and mode of organismal evolution that took place in a rapidly changing biosphere and understanding their functional adaptations to life in specialized ecological niches. The machaeridians are an excellent example of the adaptive radiations taking place in early animal evolution. These annelid worms (relatives of earthworms and leeches) evolved a mineralized armour, which gave them an ability to explore niches similar to mollusks. The machaeridians went extinct, however, after an existence in the world seas for more than 180 million years.