Lecture: MWF, 9am – 9:50pm, BO 125
Lectures discuss the theoretical and conceptual framework of paleontology. They will examine the various principles used to interpret fossils as living things, rather than just pieces of rock. They will also focus on the broader taphonomic, ecological and evolutionary significance of fossils.
Labs deal with the “Fundamentals of Invertebrate Paleontology” in that they cover the classification, morphology and ecology of the major invertebrate fossil groups: sponges; corals; molluscs; arthropods; brachiopods; echinoderms, bryozoans and graptolites. Modes of fossil preservation and methods of systematic biological classification will also be covered.
Lecture mid-term 15%
Lecture final 20%
The quizzes will be held in the first 15 minutes of class, and I will let everyone know the subject the week before.
Review sheets for the lecture midterm and final will be passed out the class period before the exam. Each will include a combination of short answer and essay-style questions.
A = 100-90% | B = 89-80% | C = 79-70% | D = 69-60% | F = 59-0%
Essay format (DUE Dec 7)
The essay should have introduction and conclusions sections. All sources of information must be
cited in the body of the text and listed in a reference list at the end of the essay. Citation consists of the author's name plus the publication date. e.g. Jones (2001) or (Jones, 2001). You should use several references in writing the essay (at least half-a-dozen) and most of these must be from scientific journals.
Web sites are not usually appropriate sources for college level essays. Do not use web sites as sources of information for your essay. However, you are encouraged to use the Midwestern Library on-line resources to research your essay. An essay that makes extensive use of web sites as primary sources is not acceptable.
The following journals are good sources and many of them can be accessed on-line:
Semipopular journals: Scientific American; American Scientist.
Research journals: Paleobiology; Journal of Paleontology, Lethaia; Science; Nature; Palaeoecology, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology; Historical Biology; Palaios.
Illustrations should be included where appropriate and may be photocopied or scanned directly from a scientific journal or text book. However, the source of the information should be indicated in the figure caption (e.g. from Jones, 2001). You may also use images from the web, but include the site information.
Length: The text (excluding title page and references) of the essay should be 10-12 pages (double spaced) in length; 12 point font; margins should be 1 inch, except for left (1.5 inches). There is no limit on the number of illustrations.
Check that your essay is free from basic grammatical, spelling and typographic errors before handing it in.
I will offer an optional review of anyone’s first draft, up to one week before the due date.
Essay topics: The essay can be on any topic in the broad field of invertebrate paleontology. In order to assist you in choosing a subject, a list of potential topics is included below. However, you are free to come up with your own topic if none of these are appealing. It is a good idea to clear your essay topic with me prior to writing.
1. Mass extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous Period.
2. Mass extinctions at the end of the Ordovician Period.
3. Mass extinctions at the end of the Devonian Period.
4. Mass extinctions at the end of the Permian Period.
5. Ecology and physiology of a particular animal group.
6. Fossil record of life in the Precambrian.
7. Composition and significance of the Ediacaran fauna.
8. Geological history of reef-building organisms.
9. Composition and significance of the Cambrian Burgess Shale and/or Chengjiang faunas.
10. Changes in the composition of marine communities during the Phanerozoic Era.
11. Trace fossils as environmental indicators.
12. The “Cambrian Explosion” of life in the oceans.
13. Taphonomy of invertebrate fossil assemblages.
14. Extinction and environmental change in the modern world.
15. Discussion of some aspect of paleontology methodology.
16. Predation in the fossil record.
For lab assignments and the essay, the late penalty is 5% per working day (25% per week) without a proper excuse. No assignments or essays will be accepted after the last day of classes.
Attendance is required for both lecture and lab. Absences can only be excused by contacting me in advance, prior to lecture or laboratory assignments. Absences presented after the class is over will not be accommodated except in rare circumstances. I reserve the right to drop any student from the class who has more than 3 unexcused absences.