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Crises in Biology - Animal Life from the Late Precambrian to the Emergence of Land Life


For this class there will be additional costs (€ 450,-) for the excursion to Normandy


Life in all its diversity evolved in the marine environment. In this course taught at Leiden University and at the Marine center of the University of Caen, France, in Luc-sur-Mer we teach aspects of the Tree of Life, we focus on the transition from mono-cellular life to animal life conquering the continents in the early Paleozoic, and we address Earth history from the time of the origin of life to the environments that made the emergence of land life possible.

We bring together a multi-disciplinary team of marine biologists, ecologists, physicists and geophysicists, isotope geochemists, astronomists, mathematicians, paleontologists and geologists to teach a course in geo-biology with special interest in the Tree of Life, the origin of life, and the environments in which life evolved.

The central theme of the course Crises in Biology is summarized in its title. Crises are important in biology because when life is under environmental stress adaptation to changes in the environment happen more quickly. For Crises we use the plural and not the singular because in the geological record there are many instances where we see evidence for environmental stress in the biosphere. Such periods are often accompanied by mass extinctions, and it becomes interesting to follow different species through such times: do fauna and flora react to stress in the same way or can we see differences. What are known causes for environmental stress?


Series of 16 lectures by different experts in Leiden and Normandy; Geological excursion to Normandy including Bio-marine excursion to the coast of Luc sur Mere, Normandy.

Subjects of the lecures are e.g. *A new look at Earth dynamics *Astronomy: exo-life,Timescales *The Earth magnetic field, *Origin of life, how organisms conquer land *Biosphere geosphere interaction *Photosynthesis

In Normandy students examine in the field the present geological and marine biological situation. Based on this experience in the laboratory they can discuss about their observations, make a geological map and perform their own experiments


Lectures: Monday – Thursday: 30, 31 May, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 June; 17:00 – 20:00 hrs
Excursion Normandy: 14 – 28 August


Gorlaeus Lab, Einsteinweg 55, Leiden / Luc sur Mer, Normandy

Assessment method

Active participation, oral presentations, written report

Maximum number of students





Enrolling in this course is possible via this link .

For this class there will be additional costs (€ 450,-) for the excursion


Dr. R.E. Kooi
Prof. dr. J.R. Wijbrans