In this course, we will explore the history of vertebrates revealed by fossils and living animals. We will cover the evolution of the major vertebrate groups, including discussions of the biogeography, stratigraphy, and paleoecology of select clades. Classroom activities will include hands on projects involving fossils, casts, and skeletons.
Topics to be covered:
- What are the major vertebrate groups today and in the past?
- When did major vertebrate groups evolve?
- How did vertebrate diversity change through time?
- Mass extinctions
- Major radiations
- What were some of the key innovations during the history of the vertebrates?
- The invasion of the land
- The evolution of flight
- Secondarily aquatic and marine vertebrates
Other topics include:
- Science and the scientific method
- Geologic time
- Paleontological techniques
- Human evolution
- Phylogeny estimation
- Behavior reconstruction
- Careers in the biosciences
This class will also include a field trip to the Gray Fossil Site, a 7-4.5 million year old fossil deposit found in 2001. The site is particularly well-known for its mammal fossils, but other vertebrate groups known from the locality include fish, amphibians, and reptiles. We will be visiting the associated museum, the fossil preparation and curation laboratories, and the site itself.