The First Animals: When, Where and How?

Cambrian sea floor, Yunnan Province, China - 518 million years ago.











The Cambrian explosion, around 540 million years ago, was arguably one of the most important evolutionary events in Earth’s history. 

In the short space of just a few tens of millions of years, our planet was transformed by the origin of all the major animal groups that we recognise today. This extraordinary evolutionary event paved the way for animal life to diversify and fill every habitat across the length and breadth of the ocean.

But what caused this explosive burst of activity? 

Was it due to a genetic revolution? Was it triggered by environmental change? Or were there many factors simultaneously at play?
The cause of the Cambrian explosion is a source of great debate and a thriving research area. Our panel of experts will discuss a range of topics including the timing of animal origins, the influence of developmental and environmental factors, and the emergence of modern oceanic ecosystems. 



Professor Paul Smith, Director, Museum of Natural History


Professor Allison Daley, Professor of Palaeontology, University of Lausanne
Professor Philip Donoghue, Professor of Palaeobiology, University of Bristol
Professor Peter Holland, Linacre Professor of Zoology, University of Oxford
Professor Rosalind Rickaby, Chair of Geology, University of Oxford

Free, but advance booking required.



Suitable for adults and young people – beginners and experts welcome!
Speakers will start with the basics before introducing their specialist field of expertise.

6.00pm doors open for viewing of the First Animals exhibition
6.30pm the debate begins in the Lecture Theatre