Oct 17th 2016

Emergence of Life (Coursera)

Taught by:

How did life emerge on Earth? How have life and Earth co-evolved through geological time? Is life elsewhere in the universe? Take a look through the 4-billion-year history of life on Earth through the lens of the modern Tree of Life.

This course will evaluate the entire history of life on Earth within the context of our cutting-edge understanding of the Tree of Life. This includes the pioneering work of Professor Carl Woese on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus which revolutionized our understanding with a new "Tree of Life." Other themes include:

-Reconnaissance of ancient primordial life before the first cell evolved

-The entire ~4-billion-year development of single- and multi-celled life through the lens of the Tree of Life

-The influence of Earth system processes (meteor impacts, volcanoes, ice sheets) on shaping and structuring the Tree of Life

This synthesis emphasizes the universality of the emergence of life as a prelude for the search for extraterrestrial life.


Week 1: Geological Time and the Nature of Science

Week 2: The Tree of Life and Early Earth Environments

Week 3: Fossilization and Precambrian Life-Earth Interaction

Week 4: Paleozoic Life After the Advent of Skeletons

Week 5: Paleozoic Plants, Reptiles, and the Transition to Land

Week 6: Mesozoic Reign of the Dinosaurs and the Development of Flight

Week 7: Cenozoic Mammals and Global Environmental Change

Week 8: Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Cosmos