Fall 2008

SCIE 636
Vertebrate Paleontology: You Wouldn't Make it in the Paleozoic


09/08/2008 - 12/12/2008
Wednesday 06:30 PM - 09:30 PM

Over 99 percent of all diversity that has ever lived is extinct. The variety of vertebrates living today is mind-boggling, but the fossil record further expands this diversity. Can you imagine a fish with elbows, a 50 foot aquatic lizard, or a half-ton lion? We will explore vertebrate evolution from the first chordates to modern fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals with emphasis on insights from fossils. Major topics include the origin of novelty (e.g., origin of land animals and the origin of flight), rise of the dinosaurs and birds, and human evolution. In each class meeting, half of our time will be spent in lecture and the remaining time will be spent discussing a hot topic relevant to the day's lecture. There will be a mid-term and final exam on the material covered in the lectures. Students will be responsible for leading one class discussion on a primary research article and writing a paper on a topic of their choosing. Come take a walk with us through time and read the stony pages of prehistory.

Sources to be studied for this course include Vertebrate Palaeontology, 3rd ed. by Michael J. Benton, as well as review articles, primary journal articles, and relevant websites.

Course requirements include a mid-term and final exam, a final paper, and class participation which includes a student led in-class discussion.

This course is open to auditors.

Rebecca Shearman (B.A., Franklin and Marshall College; Ph.D., University of Chicago) is a research associate in the biology department.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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