Instructor: Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Office Hours: TBD
Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218 (M, Tu) Geology 1119 (W, Th, F)
Phone: x5-2808, x5-4379
Office Hours: Tue 2:00 - 3:15 (Centreville 1218), Thu 2:00 - 3:00 (Geology 1119)
A survey of the evolution of the vertebrates, encompassing information from the diversity of living members, but concentrating on the contribution of the fossil record. Emphasis is on the phylogenetic systematics, comparative anatomy, developmental biology, and geochronology of major extinct and extant groups.
At least one of the following: BSCI207, BSCI392, GEOL104, GEOL204, GEOL331, HONR219D, or permission of the Geology Department.
- Readings from the technical literature
An advanced survey of vertebrate evolution as revealed by the fossil record and of the methods by which this pattern is illuminated. This course is
intended for students with serious professional or avocational interests in vertebrate evolution and some prior knowledge of:
- The history of life
- The methods of phylogenetic systematics (cladistics)
- The rock record
Two 75 min. lectures and one 75 min. discussion session weekly.
Four credit hours.
The ELMS Canvas site will include announcements concerning the class; copies of the handouts; and so forth. If you have not already done so, make sure
that you get access to ELMS.
Final grades will be based on the following items:
- Two mid-term exams (20% each)
- Final exams (25%)
- Discussion quizzes (10%)
- Discussion homework (25%)
Discussion: The weekly discussion will be devoted either to explorations of the technical literature for selected specific topics or to exercises designed to improve your knowledge of background information not suitable for lecture. Seven graded homework assignments will serve as the basis for discussions. Six of these, plus a participation score reflecting the general quality of your participation in discussions will serve as the basis of your Discussion Homework grade. (The lowest homework score is dropped automatically.)
Each discussion session will begin with a brief (five minute) quiz covering lecture material from the previous week. Barring snow days, we expect to administer 13 of these. We drop the lowest score to calculate your quiz grade (10%).
Grade calculation: With diligent work it is possible for each student to attain an A in this class. Grading will be based on points gained from the examinations listed above, as follows:
|100-97% = A+||96-94% = A||93-90% = A-|
|89-87% = B+||86-84% = B||83-80% = B-|
|79-77% = C+||76-74% = C||73-70% = C-|
|69-67% = D+||66-64% = D||63-60% = D-|
|<60% = F|
Class description and attendance policy: Attendance won't be taken, however attendance is required. Exams will be based on lecture and
discussion material and reading assignments. A participation score will make up 15% of your discussion grade. Posted web notes are intended as a
synopsis of lecture material only and are made available as current and future reference material. We recommend printing these prior to class and
making marginal notations. Actual lectures may include additional information. If you miss a lecture you must get full notes from a colleague.
By the end of the semester, every student should be able to:
- Identify, locate, and interpret technical literature in vertebrate paleontology
- Correctly interpret major features and many details of the osteology of extinct and extant vertebrates
- Display proficient knowledge of the pattern of vertebrate evolution
- Understand major connections between vertebrate development and evolution
- Critically evaluate paleontological analyses in the technical literature.
- Absences: Regular attendance and participation in this class is the best way to grasp the concepts and principles being discussed.
However, in the event that a class must be missed due to an illness, the policy in this class is as follows:
- For every medically necessary absence from class, a reasonable effort should be made to notify the instructor in advance of the class. When returning to class, students must bring a note identifying the date of and reason for the absence, and acknowledging that the information in the note is accurate.
- If a student is absent more than once, the instructor may require documentation signed by a health care professional.
- If a student is absent on days when tests or presentations are scheduled or assignments are due he or she is required to notify the instructor in advance, and upon returning to class, bring documentation of the illness, signed by a health care professional.
- Academic Accommodations: If you have a documented disability, you should contact the instructor during the first week of class,
and contact Disability Support Services 0126 Shoemaker Hall. 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.
Thus, in GEOL431, work submitted under your name, even for extra credit, must unambiguously 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. :-O
- Course Evaluations: CourseEvalUM will be open for students to complete their evaluations
for Spring 2017 courses between *** and ***. Students can go
directly to the website to complete their evaluations,
beginning *****. You will be alerted about these dates and provided more information closer
to that time, and students will be alerted via their official University e-mail account.
Students who complete evaluations for all of their courses in the previous semester (excluding summer), can access the posted results via Testudo's CourseEvalUM Reporting link for any course on campus that has at least a 70% response rate. You can find more information, including periodic updates, at the IRPA course evaluation website.
The expectation is that all students will complete these. This is YOUR chance to anonymously evaluate this class: please use this opportunity!
Copyright: © 2017 John W. Merck, Jr. and Thomas R. Holtz, 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.
Part I: Introduction and Context
Part II: Vertebrate Diversity and Evolution
|Week two, cont'd.:||
Homework I assigned
| Coates, Michael (2013) Sharks and the deep origin of modern jawed vertebrates The Palaeontological Association 57th Annual Meeting Podcast.
Min Zhu, Xiaobo Yu, Per Erik Ahlberg, Brian Choo, Jing Lu, Tuo Qiao, Qingming Qu, Wenjin Zhao, Liantao Jia, Henning Blom & You'an Zhu (2013) The braincase and jaws of a Devonian "acanthodian" and modern gnathostome origins Nature 502, 188-193.
Homework I due
|| Chapter 3: Handy Genes of Shubin, 2007. Your Inner Fish (From The Army and Navy Academy)
Coates et al., 2008. Ever Since Owen: Changing Perspectived on the Early Evolution of Tetrapods (with excellent illustrations)
Homework II assigned
Homework II due
* The instructors reserve the right to revise this schedule at their most trivial whim.
Additional reading on specific topics is cited in many lecture notes.