The Hilgendorf Lecture

The lecture is named after Franz M. Hilgendorf (1834-1904), a palaeontologist from Tübingen who, in 1863, constructed the first empirical phylogenetic tree of fossil organisms using snail shells. He thus provided the first fossil proof of gradual evolution and speciation as proposed by Darwin’s theory of evolution.

In memento of this work, the Hilgendorf Lecture series promotes evolutionary thinking across disciplines. Internationally renowned scientists present their latest work or show where evolutionary thinking can inform other research areas. The lecture is open to the public and addresses undergraduate and advanced students, postdocs and members of staff from various fields.

Hilgendorf lectures


Dr. Ingmar Werneburg



for hosts

 for speakers

WHEN?   Wed 1715 - 1900    

WHERE?  Lecture hall S320 • Hölderlinstraße 12 • Tübingen (GM).

Forthcoming talks (WiSe 2018/19)

Date Speaker and Abstract

23 Nov 2018

Host: Katerina Harvati

    NOTE unusual time and location:
                16:00-17:15, Alte Aula, Münzgasse 30, Tübingen (GM).


Prof. Dr. Tracy Kivell (Animal Postcranial Evolution lab, University of Kent, UK)

The mysteries of Homo naledi and the evolution of our hands

Homo naledi, discovered in the Rising Star Cave system, South Africa in 2013, is the newest member of our human evolutionary family. Its mosaic of skeletal features, the context of where it was found, and its relatively young age have shaken up our traditional understanding of our evolutionary history.  Tracy will discuss the anatomy and context of Homo naledi, with of focus its hand morphology and what the hand tells us about its locomotion, its manipulative capabilities, and ultimately how the human hand evolved.

19 Dec 2018
Host: Nico Michiels

Prof. Dr. Heike Wägele (Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig)

Solar powered sea slugs - fiction or reality

Solar powered sea slugs comprise two different evolutionary pathways: 1) incorporation of Symbiodinium by some cladobranch slugs, also known from several other metazoan taxa. 2) incorporation of chloroplasts only known from Sacoglossa within Metazoa. Both pathways based on different food sources allowed the slugs to become more independent of permanent food supply and help them to survive starving periods of up to many months. Whereas the benefits of the slug - Symbiodinium relationship is more obvious and better understood, the relationship of the slugs and the incorporated chloroplasts is less known. In this talk I will present our results on solar powered sea slugs with emphasis on the Sacoglossa (Heterobranchia, Gastropoda), which incorporate chloroplasts.

16 Jan 2019

Host: Ingmar Werneburg

Prof. Dr. Marcelo Sánchez (Evolutionary Morphology and Palaeobiology of Vertebrates, Uni Zürich, CH)

Modern human origins and ‘self-domestication’ – an organismal and developmental perspective

An examination of conceptual and empirical advances in studies of domestication serves to evaluate the hypothesis of ‘self-domestication’ for modern Homo sapiens. There are common and diverging patterns of morphological and life history changes in diverse species including dogs, horses, cattle, and chicken. Experimental studies of the developmental bases of such patterns provide insights into evolution. Can we use this knowledge to address the origin of diverse behavioural and morphological features of our own species?.

06 Feb 2019

Host: Hervé Bocherens

Prof. Dr. Maria McNamara (Preservation and palaeobiology of exceptionally preserved fossils, UC Cork, Ireland)

Evolution of the vertebrate integument: problems, approaches and new directions.

Many vertebrate fossils preserve evidence of skin as mineralized or carbonaceous remains. Despite broadly similar skin structure across extant vertebrates, fossil skin usually occurs as degraded remains of only selected tissue components, for reasons that are poorly understood. In this seminar I will present new data from various higher vertebrate groups that not only enrich our understanding of vertebrate skin taphonomy but have important implications for inferences of the behaviour and physiology of ancient organisms.

Previous talks