Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218 (M, Tu) Geology 1119 (W, Th, F)
Phone: x5-2808, 5-4379
E-mail: jmerck@umd.edu
Office Hours: Thu 3-5 pm (Geology 1119) or by appointment

Link to minimalist ELMS page.

Texts:

Links:

COURSE ORGANIZATION: Two meetings per week (Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 to 12:15). Tuesday's class will typically be a formal lecture, Thursdays will be divided between lecture and discussion.

CREDIT: Three credit hours. Counts as CORE Physical Science and GenEd DSNS.

Emphasis: At first glance, this course appears simply to be about the history of vertebrate evolution. In fact, there are several courses on campus that address issues of vertebrate anatomy, evolution, and diversity in greater detail than we will. If your true objective is simply to learn about fossil and living vertebrate diversity, HONR219D may not be what you expect (in which case you might look into BSCI392, GEOL331, or GEOL431). This course's real object is to explore the new, and still controversial, methods of phylogenetic systematics and Evo-Devo, by which modern evolutionary scientists have focused our picture of vertebrate history, and examine the connections between the evolution of species and the development of individuals. By the time you complete this course, you can expect not only to have digested many raw facts about vertebrates, but to have mastered a method of inquiry that will enable you to integrate those facts into a coherent, compelling pattern. In the process, you will place yourselves in the vanguard of an ongoing scientific revolution. Forward!

Class description and attendance policy: Attendance won't be taken, however lecture attendance is required. Exams will be based on lecture material and reading assignments. Posted web notes are intended as a synopsis of lecture material only. If you miss a lecture you must get full notes from a colleague. Also, part of your grade (5%) is based on participation in discussions. Habitual failure to participate will result in the loss of these points. :-O

GRADES:

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

POLICIES

Preliminary Schedule

Part I: The Rock Record

Lecture and exam schedule:

Date TopicReading
1-26 Snow Day (grrr)

1-28
  • Introduction, the nature of science, the Scientific Method and Linnean taxonomy

  • 2-2
  • The discovery of geologic time.

  • Part II: Evolution

    2-4
  • Fossilization and the fossil record

  • Shubin, 2008: Chapter 1.
  • Bjornerud, 2005: Chapter 2.
  • The Geologic Time Scale: in its full glory and the stuff you have to know.

  • 2-5
  • Last day of add/drop

  • 2-9
  • Darwin and evolutionary processes
  • Due: Homework 1

  • 2-11
  • The Anatomy of a Scientific Paper

  • Darwin, 1883: Introduction

  • 2-16
  • Evolution as pattern I

  • Baum, et al., 2005
  • 2-18
  • Evolution as Pattern II, The Iron Cladist

  • Due: Homework 2
  • Laurin, 2010: Chapter 1, pp 1-26.
  • - de Queiroz, 1988.

  • Part III: Making Babies

    2-23
  • Introducing Chordata I: Anatomy
  • 2-25
  • Introducing Chordata II: Phylogeny.
  • Due: Homework 3
  • Radinsky, 1987, Chapter 3

  • 3-1
  • Developing vertebrate bodies (embryology)
  • Shubin, 2008: Chapter 6.
  • Part IV: Enigmas

    Enigma 1: Head Games

    3-3
  • Head examination
  • Due: Homework 4

  • Carroll, 2005: Chapter 3

  • 3-8
  • Headaches

  • Shubin, 2008: Chapters 4-5

  • 3-10
  • Midterm exam

  • 3-12 through 3-20
  • Spring Break
  • Enigma 2: Fish Bones

    3-22
  • The diversity of jawed vertebrates
  • Semester Project introduced
  • Due: Homework 5

  • 3-24
  • What did the last common ancestor of jawed vertebrates look like?

  • Shubin, 2008, Chapters 8-9. (Everyone)
  • Brazeau, 2009 (Last names A - M)
  • Zhu et al., 2013 (Last names N - Z)

  • Enigma 3: Fish out of Water

    3-29
  • Leaving the water
  • Due: Homework 6
  • Due: Project topic: Target group, terminal taxa, and outgroup.

  • 3-31
  • Tetrapoda - the definition!, Life strategies, love, and homology among the amphibians
  • Shubin, 2008: Chapters 2-3. (Everyone)
  • Clack, 2007: (Last names A - H)
  • Graham et al., 2014. (Last names I - O)
  • Witzmann, 2015. (Last names P - Z)

  • Enigma 4: Private heated pools

    4-5
  • Amniota: Coordinated evolution in the conquest of the land

  • note: Project bibliography will be submitted along with matrix and character list on 4/19.

  • 4-7
  • All you need is a time machine and a thermometer
  • Bakker 1975: (Everyone)
  • Bernard et al., 2010: (Last names A - D)
  • Graham et al., 2014. (Last names E - L)
  • Hillenius, 1994. (Last names M - R)
  • Schachner et al., 2013. (Last names S - Z)

  • Enigma 5: Mammary Mysteries

    4-11
  • Last day to withdraw with a W

  • 4-12
  • Warm fuzzies

  • 4-14
  • Like pornography, we know them when we see them

  • Shubin, 2008: Chapter 10. (Everyone)
  • Oftedal, 2002. (Last names A - G)
  • Luo, 2007. (Last names H - R Focus on jaws and ears)
  • Rowe, 1996. (Last names S - Z Focus on jaws and ears)

  • Enigma 6: True Lizards

    4-17
  • Field trip: National Zoo: Use Woodley Park - Zoo Metro. Rendezvous at Amazonia House at 2:00 PM.
  • 4-19
  • Reptile diversity

  • Due: Project Character list and matrix.
  • 4-21
  • "...more subtil than any beast..."
  • Lee, et al., 1999. (Last names A - D)
  • Caldwell, 2000. (Last names E - G)
  • Gauthier, et al., 2012. (Last names L - M Read only the abstract and review the parts that deal with the phylogenetic position of snakes.)
  • Martill, et al., 2015. (Last names P - R)
  • Reeder, et al., 2015. (Last names S - Y)
  • Enigma 7: Archosauromorpha: Monsters of Homology

    4-26
  • Archosauromorpha
  • An introduction to T.N.T.

  • 4-28
  • Dinosaur fingers and developmental identity
  • Feduccia et al. 2005 (Last names A - G)
  • Wagner and Gauthier, 1999 (Last names L - P)
  • Xu et al., 2009 (Last names R - Y)

  • Enigma 8: New Parts from Scratch

    5-3
  • How weird are turtles?

  • Due: Project preliminary results.
  • 5-5
  • How did turtles become so weird?

  • Reisz and Laurin, 1991. (Last names A - D)
  • Rieppel and deBraga, 1996. (Last names E - G)
  • Li, et. al. 2008. (Last names L - M)
  • Bever et al. 2015. (Last names P - R)
  • Schoch and Sues 2015. (Last names S - Y)

  • Part V: Lessons in Evolving Animals and Sciences

    5-8
  • Field trip: US National Museum of Natural History: Use Archives - Navy Memorial Metro. Rendezvous at the elephant's butt at 12:00 PM.
  • 5-9
  • Review Session - 5:30 - 6:30: Cambridge Community Center (CCC) 1111.
  • 5-10
  • Phylogenetic Systematics among the Sciences
  • Due: Final project papers

  • Finals week

    5-12 8:00 AM (sorry)
  • Final exam


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


    Bibliography