Biology of Extinct Animals
PLS 1130 MWF 9:00 - 9:50
Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218 (M, Tu, W)
Phone: x5-2808, 5-3479
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)
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.
- Two midterm exams (25% each)
- Final exam (50%)
- Midterm Exams: Each midterm is worth 25% of the total grade and covers one half of the course material. These consist of objective and essay components.
- Final Exam: The final exam will be exclusively objective. All exams will contain numerous illustrations of extinct animals for which you will be required to make paleobiological inferences. Some of these will have been discussed explicitly in lecture Others will require you to make inferences based on methods you have learned. Exam scores are curved.
- Exam Scores: Each exam is scored using a standard 100 point scale. Each exam will be curved to make the median score equal to 81 provided this does not result in the lowering of original scores.
- Absences: Absences from exams will not be excused except for those causes approved by University policy (see p. 33-34 of the UMCP Undergraduate Catalog 2006/2007). Only those students excused for these causes will be eligible for a make-up exam. Missed exams must be made up within one week of your return to class.
- Academic Accommodations: If you have a documented disability, you should contact Disability Support Services 0126 Shoemaker Hall.Ê Each semester students with documented disabilities should apply to DSS for accommodation request forms which you can provide to your professors as proof of your eligibility for accommodations. The rules for eligibility and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the DSS web site
- Religious Observances: The University System of Maryland policy provides that students should not be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs, students shall be given an opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance. Notice should be provided as soon as possible but no later than the end of the schedule adjustment period. Faculty should further remind students that prior notification is especially important in connection with final exams, since failure to reschedule a final exam before the conclusion of the final examination period may result in loss of credits during the semester. The problem is especially likely to arise when final exams are scheduled on Saturdays.
- Dishonesty: The Student Honor Council observes that, "The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/whatis.html."
Thus, in BSCI392, work submitted under your name must be exclusively your own. Any evidence of dishonesty on any graded assignment will result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct, whereupon your life will become very interesting, indeed. Have a nice day.
- Copyright: © 2007 John W. Merck, Jr. as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students are prohibited from copying and selling course materials, from selling lecture notes, and from being paid to take lecture notes without the express written permission of the faculty teaching this course.
Numbers in parentheses refer to reading assignments in Prothero. All readings are to be completed prior to lecture.
Part I - The Information at Hand
Course policies and procedures. Introduction to Paleontology. (vii-8)
The Paleobestiary - a review of animal diversity.
Labor Day - No class.
Sedimentology - reconstructing the the environmental context.
Fossilization and Information Loss. (8-19)
Evolutionary History of the Earth.
Trace fossils and the evolution of behavior. (419-433)
Part II - Constraining the Imagination
Principles of Animal Design. (97-117)
Scaling, Allometry, and fractal geometry.
Adaptations to sessility. (215-229)
The biomechanics of swimming.
The biomechanics of terrestrial locomotion.
The biomechanics of flight. (review 112-115)
Adaptations to suspension feeding. (330-334)
Development and Heterochrony. (21-30)
Reconstructing Phylogeny. (47-63)
Phylogenetic constraints on paleobiology.
6:00 PM - Review session, Cambridge Community Center 1100.
Trophic and community structure. (119-147)
Saturday Field Trip.
Part III - Case studies
The Gardens of Ediacara.
MIDTERM EXAM I.
The Fauna of the Burgess Shale. (15)
Ammonoids and the evolution of shell form. (307-317)
Eurypterids, arachnids, and the arthropod invasion of the land. (265-269)
Calcichordates or Homalozoans? (319-327)
The conodnt animal and the vertebrate body-plan. (344-355)
The evolution of jawed vertebrates. (356-370)
All the fish in the sea - Devonian style (370-372)
Tiktaalik, Acanthostega, and the vertebrate invasion of the land. (373-376)
Late Paleozoic synapsids - Not quite mammals (377-384)
Marine amniotes I: Euryapsids, turtles, and lizards
The many careers of crocodilians (384-388)
Thanksgiving break - no class (***)
Morphology and Physiology of Sauropods
Flying Theropods (389-393)
Flightless Flying Theropods
Marine amniotes II: synapsids (***)
Sabretooth cats (review 115-117)
12-7: Exam review session
Cambridge Community Center Room 1100, 5:30 PM
MIDTERM EXAM II. Follow this link for issues with Exam II scoring.
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)
* The instructor reserves the right to revise this schedule at his most trivial whim.