Biology of Extinct Animals
Fall 2007
PLS 1130 MWF 9:00 - 9:50

Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218 (M, Tu, W)
Phone: x5-2808, 5-3479
FAX: 301-314-9661
E-mail: jmerck@umd.edu
Office Hours: Thu 3-5 pm (Geology 1119) or by appointment

COURSE ORGANIZATION: Three lectures per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 to 9:50).

CREDIT: Three credit hours. Is designed to be taken concurrently with one credit lab, BSCI 393. Formerly ZOOL 396. Credit is granted for only one of the following: BSCI392 or ZOOL396.

PREREQ: BSCI 106.

SYNOPSIS: A survey of animals that formerly resided on Earth and have few, if any, direct living descendants. This course offers to students with a wide range of backgrounds an overview of the diversity of animal life strategies that have existed in the past. Students will use the principles of paleontology; including mechanicalmodelling, paleoecology, and phylogenetic analysis to infer the lifestyles of extinct animals, many of which have no living analog.

TEXT: Donald R. Prothero. 2004. Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology. (2nd edition) WCB McGraw-Hill. 457 pp. (ISBN 0073662708)

GRADES:

FIELD TRIP: A Saturday fossil collecting field trip will be scheduled during October or November. This is optional and has no direct effect on the grade. It is, however, an excellent opportunity to learn basic paleontological field methods at some excellent local sites.

POLICIES

Schedule

Numbers in parentheses refer to reading assignments in Prothero. All readings are to be completed prior to lecture.

Part I - The Information at Hand

  • 8-29: Course policies and procedures. Introduction to Paleontology. (vii-8)

  • 8-31: The Paleobestiary - a review of animal diversity.

  • 9-3: Labor Day - No class.

  • 9-5: Sedimentology - reconstructing the the environmental context.

  • 9-7: Fossilization and Information Loss. (8-19)

  • 9-10: Evolutionary History of the Earth.

  • 9-12: Trace fossils and the evolution of behavior. (419-433)

    Part II - Constraining the Imagination

  • 9-14: Principles of Animal Design. (97-117)

  • 9-17: Scaling, Allometry, and fractal geometry.

  • 9-19: Adaptations to sessility. (215-229)

  • 9-21: The biomechanics of swimming.

  • 9-24: The biomechanics of terrestrial locomotion.

  • 9-26: The biomechanics of flight. (review 112-115)

  • 9-28: Reconstructing diets.

  • 10-1: Adaptations to suspension feeding. (330-334)

  • 10-3: Thermal strategies.

  • 10-5: Development and Heterochrony. (21-30)

  • 10-8: Reconstructing Phylogeny. (47-63)

  • 10-10: Phylogenetic constraints on paleobiology.

  • 10-11: 6:00 PM - Review session, Cambridge Community Center 1100.

  • 10-12: Trophic and community structure. (119-147)

  • 10-13: Saturday Field Trip.

    Part III - Case studies

  • 10-15: The Gardens of Ediacara.

  • 10-17: MIDTERM EXAM I.

  • 10-19: No lecture.

  • 10-22: The Fauna of the Burgess Shale. (15)

  • 10-24: Conulariids.

  • 10-26: Ammonoids and the evolution of shell form. (307-317)

  • 10-29: Trilobites. (255-265)

  • 10-31: Eurypterids, arachnids, and the arthropod invasion of the land. (265-269)

  • 11-2: Calcichordates or Homalozoans? (319-327)

  • 11-5: The conodnt animal and the vertebrate body-plan. (344-355)

  • 11-7: The evolution of jawed vertebrates. (356-370)

  • 11-9: All the fish in the sea - Devonian style (370-372)

  • 11-12: Tiktaalik, Acanthostega, and the vertebrate invasion of the land. (373-376)

  • 11-14: Late Paleozoic synapsids - Not quite mammals (377-384)

  • 11-16: Marine amniotes I: Euryapsids, turtles, and lizards

  • 11-19: The many careers of crocodilians (384-388)

  • 11-21: Pterosaurs

  • 11-23: Thanksgiving break - no class (***)

  • 11-27: Morphology and Physiology of Sauropods

  • 11-29: Walking Theropods

  • 11-31: Flying Theropods (389-393)

  • 12-3: Flightless Flying Theropods

  • 12-5: Marine amniotes II: synapsids (***)

  • 12-7: Sabretooth cats (review 115-117)

  • 12-7: Exam review session Cambridge Community Center Room 1100, 5:30 PM

  • 12-10: MIDTERM EXAM II. Follow this link for issues with Exam II scoring.

  • 12-14: Optional review session - Cambridge Community Center Room 1100, 5:30 PM. Midterm exams II are scored and recorded. You may pick them up from me on Friday 12-14 after 10:00 Am in Centreville 1218 (You may need to call 5-2808 to get in.) I will have them at the review. - JM

  • 12-17: 8:00 AM (sorry) FINAL EXAM

    * The instructor reserves the right to revise this schedule at his most trivial whim.