GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2006

PLS 1130 10:00-10:50 am MWF

Instructor: Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

Room: Centreville 1216 Office Hours: T 8:30-11 am, or by appointment

Phone: (301) 405-4084, Email:

NOTE: It is your responsibility as a student to completely read through and understand this syllabus. If you have questions about it, please contact Dr. Holtz. You will be held responsible for following all requirements of this syllabus.

Course Organization: 3 meetings per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).

Item Percentage
Test I 20%
Test II 20%
Final Exam 20%
Smithsonian Assignment I 12.5%
Smithsonian Assignment II 12.5%
Other Assignments, Quizzes 15%

No separate extra credit is planned for this course.

NOTE: Late Assignments will be docked 25% of the total grade for the first class day missed (without a valid excuse) and an additional 25% for the next. After that point, the grade for that assignment will be a 0.

Grade Scale: > = 90, A; 80-89, B; 70-79, C; 60-69, D; <60, F. "+" and "-" grades are given to the top and bottom two-point range, respectively, within each grade.

Dinosaurs: A Natural History is a CORE course. CORE Distributive Studies courses are designed to ensure that you will take a look at several different academic disciplines and the way they create and analyze knowledge about the world. A faculty and student committee approved this CORE Distributive Studies course because it will introduce you to the ideas and issues that are central to a major intellectual discipline and because it promises to involve you actively in the learning process. Please take advantage of the opportunities this course offers you.

Required Text: David E. Fastovsky and David B. Weishampel. 2005. The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs. 2nd Edition. Cambridge Univ. Press. 485 pp. ISBN 0-521-81172-4.

Website: (but you know that already...)
The Website contains a copy of the course policies, the syllabus, lecture notes, copies of the handouts, dinosaur-related web links, and other features. Please feel free to utilize this resource, and email Dr. Holtz with any suggestions on improving this resource.

Email Discussion List: In order to facilitate discussion, an email discussion list will be organized for this class. This list can be used to propose questions for discussion; to ask for clarification of topics; and so forth. Details will be provided during the second week of class.

Academic integrity: The University of Maryland 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

The University of Maryland is one of a small number of universities with a student-administered Honors Code and an Honors Pledge, available on the web at  The code prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures.  The University Senate encourages instructors to ask students to write the following signed statement on each examination or assignment:  "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment)."

Academic Accommodations:  If you have a documented disability, you should 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 at

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 (September 13).  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.

Other: All work on tests, homework, etc. must be your own. Although group study can be very useful, make sure that all your work you turn in is your own.

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.

Quizzes will, if offered, be unannounced, be at the start of class, and cover both the readings and lectures.

Attendance in class is most strongly encouraged. Much of the information presented is not available in the textbook. If you cannot make a certain lecture, try and find another student who might lend your their notes. (In fact, establishing a study group early in the course has proven useful for many students in the past).

Keep up with the required readings! Although the format of the lectures and the chapters do not always match, the readings are important as well. Some of the material to be tested is covered in more detail in the readings than in class.

Readings should be done prior to the classtime they are listed.

NOTE: As part of the nature of the course, there will be a lot of memorization (less than a foreign language class, but more than that found in more mathematically-oriented introductory science classes). This will include lots of anatomical, geological, and paleontological terms, as well as evolutionary and temporal relationships. If you have difficulty memorizing, this may not be the class for you. Also, if there are words or concepts with which you are not familiar, feel free to ask Dr. Holtz (in class, after class, over email, etc.) for an explanation or clarification.

Course Evaluations: As with all CMPS classes, the course evaluations will be done online during the last several weeks of the semester. The expectation is that all students will complete these. This is YOUR chance to anonymously evaluate this class: please use this opportunity.

Copyright: © 2007 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 professor teaching this course.

  • Syllabus & Lecture Notes
  • Handouts
  • References and Links

    For a formatted printable copy of the complete syllabus, click here.