Paleontology Lecture and Lab Syllabus

GEOL 4024W/L, Fall 2010

Lecture: M, W 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM           Lab: W1:00-3:00                                       Calloway 120       Calloway 106

Instructor: Dr. Brad Deline                           E-mail: CourseDen

Office: Calloway G1-4                                  Office hours: Teu: 12-5, W 2-5

 

Course description

Paleontology is the study of the history of life. This covers many subjects including the origin of life, evolution, mass extinctions, radiations, paleoecology, exceptional preservation, and functional morphology.  Paleontology also contributes to the understanding of Earth Systems history in the study of biostratigraphy, paleobiogeography, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, taphonomy, isotopic analysis. As with many other areas of geology, paleontology sits at the interface between disciplines, in this case biology and geology.

  

Learning objectives

1)      Identify taxa that represent the major lineages of organismal life. 

2)       Draw conclusions about the life habits and whole animal anatomy from preserved fossil remains.

3)      Understand the pathway an organism travels to become a fossil

4)      Understand the patterns and mechanisms of evolution

5)      Describe the major transition in the history of life

6)      Make correct stratigraphic designations for strata based on their fossil content.

7)      Understand and practice the analytical methods used by paleontologists.

8)      Understand critical issues in evolutionary and ecological theory, including competition, evolutionary mechanisms, natural and species selection, extinction, progress, and escalation.

9)      By reading paleontological literature and composing research reports gain a better understanding of science writing. 

 

Required textbooks

1)      Foote, M. and A. Miller. 2008. Principles of Paleontology. 3rd ed. Freeman, NYC.*

2)      Shubin, N.  2008.  Your Inner Fish.  Pantheon, NY.

 

Supplementary textbooks available in lab (For taxonomic reference)

Clarkson, E.N.K.  1998.  Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution.  4th ed.  Blackwell, NYC.

Feldmann, R.M., ed.  1996.  Fossils of Ohio.  Ohio Division of Geological Survey Bulletin 70.

Moore, R.C., ed.  1953-2008.  Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology.  Geological Society of America, New York, and University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Prothero, D.R.  2004.  Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology.  2nd ed.  McGraw-Hill, NYC.

 

 

Office hours

I have eight hours scheduled each week for office hours. However, you are more than welcome to email me with questions or to set up additional times to meet. Also, feel free to call me when I am on campus at (678-839-4061) or stop by my office (it will be open when I am there).  One side note, I am going to try and keep Thursdays open for research, so keep than in mind when dropping by my office.  I will try to be prompt in my responses to emails, but emailing me the night before/ morning of a quiz or assignment is due will not be to your benefit.   

 

A note on Plagiarism

I realize it is very tempting and easy to plagiarize assignments.  However, I expect that all assignments will be in your own words and when you paraphrase an article, that article will be cited. As easy as it is to plagiarize it is just as easy to catch. Any instances of Plagiarism will result in a 0 on the assignment and will be reported to the dean’s office.

 

Attendance and Lateness

Attendance is extremely important to your performance in this class and I have found it to be directly related to the student’s final grade. Obviously, attendance is your choice, but missing lab, discussions, and lecture will be very detrimental to your grade. I expect assignments and labs to be turned in on their assigned date, failure to do this will result in a 10% per day penalty.

 

Grading policies

The lecture and lab portions are broken down according to the following lists.  Grading follows the typical 10% subdivision.  Lecture counts for ⅔ of your overall grade and lab counts for ⅓.

 

GRADING

 

LECTURE

Exam 1                                                                                    23%

Exam 2                                                                                    23%

Exam 3                                                                                    23%

Field Trip/ Research Paper                                                     16%                                                    

Class Assignments                                                                  10%        

Participation and Attendance                                                 5%

                                                                                                 =100%

Exams

All exams are take home and, therefore, open note. You will be given a week to work on them and will be due on the dates stated.  No late exams will be accepted.  You will work on these exams alone and they will be short answer and essay based.

    

Field Trip

I am currently planning a field trip over Fall Break (Thursday- Sunday).  More details to follow. You will be required to write a report on the geology and paleontology of the area which will be due following the trip, more details to follow.  I realize that some people will be unable to attend this trip and exceptions will be made in special circumstances. If you are unable to attend the field trip a research paper will be required.

 

Research Paper

A research paper will be required for those unable to attend the field trip.  The topic is rather open, but will focus on the discussion of a paleontological issue and the methods that have been/ should be used to address it. You will be required to turn in a short paragraph paper proposal (feel free to discuss topics with me), a bibliography of literature sources, and a paper. Details will be given soon.

 

Additional class assignments

There will be additional assignments and activities periodically throughout the semester.  Among others, these include a geological timescale quiz, seminar summaries, and in-class discussion of primary literature articles, and weekly summaries of your readings in Shubin’s (2008) Your Inner Fish.

 

LAB

 

Weekly Lab Exercises                                     30

Research Report 1                                           20

Lab Practical 1                                                25

Lab Practical 2                                                25

                                                                        =100

 

Lab exercises

The laboratory manual will be posted the week previous to the laboratory. It is important that you read through the labs and be prepared to complete them during the class period.   

 

Research Report

During the final two lab meetings we will be having a short research project in which you will collect data, analyze it, and write a research report.  This report will be due alongside the final at the exam period.

 

Lab Practicals

Lab practicals will not be comprehensive and will focus on the identification, functional morphology, anatomy, preservation, occurrence, and paleoecology of the fossil groups covered.  Reviewing your previous labs, the systematic portion of the textbook, and reviewing laboratory specimens will be useful in preparing.

 

 

 

 

 

Lecture Schedule

Date

Topic

Readings*

Aug. 16

Introduction, Biodiversity and Sepkoski’s Evolutionary Faunas

 

Aug. 18

Evolution 1

 

Aug. 23

Taphonomy,  modes of fossilization, and trace fossils

Ch. 1

Aug. 25

Evolution 2

Ch. 7

Aug. 30

Taxonomy, phylogenetics, cladistics, and species concepts

Ch. 3+4

Sept. 1

Biostratigraphy

Ch. 6

Sept. 6

LABOR DAY (NO CLASS)

 

Sept. 8

Seminar 1

PDFS

Sept. 13

Micropaleontology, stromatolites, and Porifera

 

Sept. 15

Growth

Ch. 2

Sept. 20

Cnidaria                  EXAM 1 DUE

 

Sept. 22

Paleoecology 1

Ch. 9

Sept. 27

Arthropoda

 

Sept. 29

Paleoecology 2

Ch. 9

Oct. 4

Bryozoa

 

Oct. 6

Seminar 2

PDFS

Oct. 11

Lab Review

 

Oct. 13

NO CLASS

 

Oct. 18

Brachiopoda

 

Oct. 20

 Ichnology               EXAM 2 DUE

 

Oct. 25

Mollusca I

 

Oct. 27

Paleogeography

Ch. 9

Nov. 1

NO CLASS – GSA

 

Nov. 3

NO CLASS – GSA

 

Nov. 8

Mollusca II               FIELD TRIP REPORT DUE

 

Nov. 10

Paleobotony

 

Nov. 15

Echinodermata

 

Nov. 17

Echinodermata and Lower Vertebrates

 

Nov. 22

LAB PRACTICAL II

 

Nov. 24

NO CLASS – Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Nov. 29

Extinction

Ch. 8

Dec. 1

Seminar 3

PDFS

* There may also be additional readings throughout the semester.

**Final Exam will be due at or before the assigned examination time.

 

 

Lab schedule

Date

Topic

Aug. 16

Phanerozoic history, diversity curves

Aug. 23

Taphonomy,  modes of fossilization, and trace fossils

Aug. 30

Phylogenetics Exercises

Sept. 6

LABOR DAY (NO LAB)

Sept. 13

Micropaleontology, stromatolites, and Porifera

Sept. 20

Cnidaria

Sept. 27

Arthropoda

Oct. 4

Bryozoa

Oct. 11

LAB PRACTICAL I

Oct. 18

Brachiopoda

Oct. 25

Mollusca I (Monoplacophora, Polyplacophora, Gastropoda, & Cephalopoda)

Nov. 1

No lab – GSA

Nov. 8

Mollusca II (Scaphopoda, Rostroconchia, & Bivalvia)

Nov. 15

Echinodermata

Nov. 22

Lab Project I

Nov. 29

Lab Project II