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Video Study Kit

On the Origin of Phyla

James W. Valentine

Widely recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on invertebrate paleontology and evolutionary paleobiology, Professor James Valentine's research tackles what many consider the most difficult and enigmatic problem facing neo-Darwinian theory: explaining the origin of phyla.

During the Cambrian Period, half a billion years ago, nearly every major group of animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record. Known as phyla, these groups each shared unique body plans and genetic characteristics. Some would be familiar to us today, such as mollusks or chordates (including fish), while others have long since gone extinct. Where these phyla came from, and how they evolved, is an enduring biological mystery on par with the origin of life on earth and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The On the Origin of Phyla Study Kit provides two of the finest resources available for understanding the questions surrounding the origin of phyla and its significance to the origins debate.


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VHS Format
Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes

In these exclusive interviews, Professor Valentine addresses a wide range of personal and technical questions, including:

  • What are some of the major problems related to the origin of phyla?
  • Is Darwinian gradualism consistent with the fossil record and the origin of phyla?
  • Why is the Cell-Type Hypothesis a better explanation for the origin of phyla than competing ideas?

Also includes ARN study insert for easy reference.

Click to view a sample of this video

(Hardcover) University of Chicago Press, 608 pp.

Taking its title from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, this book provides the first comprehensive investigation of the mystery of the origin of phyla. James W. Valentine, one of the twentieth century's most distinguished paleobiologists, integrates data from molecular genetics, evolutionary developmental biology, embryology, comparative morphology, and paleontology into a synthesis accessible to scholars from any of these fields. He begins by examining the sorts of evidence that can be gleaned from fossils, molecules, and morphology, then reviews and compares the basic morphology and development of animal phyla, emphasizing the important design elements found in the body plans of both living and extinct phyla. Finally, Valentine undertakes the monumental task of developing models to explain the origin and early diversification of animal phyla.

Truly a magnum opus, On the Origin of Phyla will take its place as one of the classic scientific texts of the twentieth century and no doubt will provide fresh new data for the Darwin vs. Design debate.

Item# V012SK

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