ALLELE series continues with Gregory Retallack lecture

Emily Williams

University of Oregon Professor Gregory Retallack will visit campus and give a lecture titled “Global Cooling by Grassland Soils in the Geological Past, Present, and Near Future.” The talk will take place Thursday in the Biology Auditorium, Room 127 at 7:30 p.m.

The lecture is part of the ALLELE series, Alabama’s Lectures on Life’s Evolution. The series is sponsored by the departments of biological sciences, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, history and geological sciences.

Retallack is a paleontologist and geologist from Australia. His specialty is the study of fossils, and he has written two textbooks on the study of soil, known as paleopedology. His lecture will examine the role of grasslands in global cooling and its effects throughout history.

“The basic idea is that grasslands didn’t evolve by adapting to the environment but that they changed our environment,” Retallack said. “They created cooling that we see in the last 30 million years, and they did it in a whole variety of different ways that have implications for agriculture and the greenhouse crisis.”

Retallack said he hopes the talk will give students a greater appreciation for the importance of the grassland ecosystem.

“I think the way in which we can learn how to prevent global change is by studying global changes of the past, and this talk shows why the study of things like fossils is relevant to understanding the greenhouse crisis we currently find ourselves in,” Retallack said.

Taylor Burbach, president of the Evolutionary Studies Club, said she is looking forward to hearing Retallack explain his position in person.

“His work is very interesting,” Burbach said. “He has put a little spin on it about how carbon forming can counteract global warming. He’s going to tie it in to other issues. We’re so excited to get him to come, because reading it on paper is much different than actually hearing someone explain it to you.”

Previous speakers in the ALLELE lecture series include Baba Brinkman, a musician who raps about evolution, and Gad Saad, an evolutionary economist.