About Endless forms
The core of Naturalis’s activities, as well as the inner drive of most of its scientists, is a fascination with biodiversity
Biodiversity, the diversity of manifestations of life, is particularly obvious in morphological diversity: disparity in the shape and function of entire bodies and their constituent organs. Therefore, in 2015, Naturalis has started a research group to document the processes and routes by which this morphological diversity evolves. This is the group “Endless Forms”, named after Darwin’s famous final sentence in On the Origin of Species.
Our research is structured along these axes:
1) temporal (micro-evolution grading into macro-evolution)
2) methodological (experimental, descriptive or analytical)
3) conceptual (selection vs. constraints; biotic vs. abiotic selection; key innovations vs. species-level specializations)
4) fundamental vs. applied
Research Teams of Endless Forms
To address these various levels of understanding, Endless Forms comprises seven research teams, each grouped around one permanent researcher, and led by Prof. Dr. Menno Schilthuizen:
- Frietson Galis Lab (selection and constraints in mammal skeleton evolution)
- Barbara Gravendeel Lab (genomics of adaptive morphology in plants)
- Dick Groenenberg Lab (phylogenomics of various groups, especially molluscs)
- Martin Rücklin Lab (palaeobiology of early jawed vertebrates)
- Menno Schilthuizen Lab (evolutionary diversification in genitalia and snail shells)
- Freek Vonk Lab (evolution and genomics of venom delivery in snakes)
- Rutger Vos Lab (computational phylogenomics)
Collaborations of Endless Forms
Within Naturalis, we make broad use of the collections, the computational facilities, and the molecular and morphology labs. Elsewhere in Leiden, we also closely collaborate with research groups and labs at the Institute of Biology Leiden, the University of Applied Sciences Leiden, and Leiden University Medical Centre.
Where we are: Endless Forms
You will find us in two locations: On the 4th floor of the main building of Naturalis, at Darwinweg 2, and on the 6th floor of the Sylvius Lab. In the end of 2016, the entire group will move to a yet to be determined location, while the main building of Naturalis is being renovated.
Our teaching: Endless Forms
Endless Forms organises and contributes to several courses in the BSc and MSc biology curricula of Leiden University. We also are working on a MOOC (“Evolution Today”), which will open on Coursera in September 2016. In addition, we regularly offer positions for students from all universities to do their final year projects with us. If you are interested, contact any of the Endless Forms research team heads.
Drop by at Endless Forms
Interested? Feel free to drop on our twice-monthly group meetings (2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, 16.00 h in LiveScience and the Sylvius Lab, respectively), or on our monthly journal club (every first Tuesday of the month, 18.00 h, in café Meneer Jansen).