The molecular clock hypothesis provides the only viable framework for integrating molecular sequence and fossil age data to establish an evolutionary timescale.However, even after five decades since its proposal, the hypothesis remains controversial.This meeting will bring together scientists from molecular systematics, palaeontology, comparative genomics, and computational biology to discuss recent breakthroughs in the field and highlight future research directions.

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He has led in integrating data from living and fossil organisms to generate phylogenies – solutions to the question of how major groups originated and diversified through time.

This approach has revolutionised our understanding of major questions, including the relative roles of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on the history of life, whether diversity reaches saturation, the significance of mass extinctions, and how major clades radiate.

His research themes: a) diversification of life; b) phylogeny of diapsids and dinosaurs; c) dating the tree of life.

Enquiries: Contact the events team Ziheng Yang is the RA Fisher Professor of Statistical Genetics at Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment, University College London.

He develops statistical methods and writes computer programs for phylogenetic and population genetics analyses of sequence data.

His current research projects include estimation of species divergence times incorporating information from molecules and fossils, Bayesian phylogeographic analysis and species tree estimation under the multispecies coalescent model, and modelling protein evolution to understand the impact of selection. He has won a few awards and published about 200 papers and 2 books.

His recent book, Molecular Evolution: A Statistical Approach, has a pretty lizard on the cover.

Back to list Philip Donoghue is Professor of Palaeobiology at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol.

His research focusses on formative episodes in evolutionary history, such as the origin of plants, animals and vertebrates, which he studies through the integration of palaentological, anatomical, and molecular evidence.

Donoghue has a long-standing interest in divergence time estimation and he has been influential in establishing the role of palaeontological data in molecular clock studies.

Back to list Michael Benton has made fundamental contributions to understanding the history of life, particularly biodiversity fluctuations through time.