Organization and Policies

Lecture: Plant Sciences Building (036 PLS) 1172 1:00-1:50 pm MWF
Lab: Geology Building (237 GEO) 2107 2:00-5:00 pm Th

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Room: Geology Building (237 GEO) 4106
Office Hours: Th 12-1:30 pm, or by appointment
Phone: x56965, Email:

Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Room: Geology Building (237 GEO) 1119
Office Hours: Th 12:00-2:00 pm, or by appointment
Phone: x54379, 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 or Dr. Merck. You will be held responsible for following all requirements of this syllabus.

Course Organization: 3 meetings per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), 1 laboratory per week (Friday).

Grade Percentage
Exam 1: 20%
Exam 2: 20%
Final Exam: 20%
Labs: 20%
Lab Practical: 5%
Homework: 15%

No separate extra credit assignments are planned for this course.

Grade Scale: The numbers given represent the thresholds that must be passed in order to reach that grade (for example, A+ is 97.000... and any number greater). There is no rounding for letter grades; the thresholds must be passed. F is any grade below D-. Thresholds: 97, A+; 93, A; 90, A-; 87, B+; 83, B; 80, B-; 77, C+; 73, C; 70, C-; 67, D+; 63, D; 60, D-; < 60, F.

The Final Grade is the algebraic sum based on the numerical grades.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the semester, every student should be able to:


  • Lecture: Donald R. Prothero. 2013. Bringing Fossils to Life. 3rd Edition. Columbia University Press. 671 pp. ISBN 978-0-231-15893-0.
  • Additional online readings are linked to the online syllabus.

    The Website contains a copy of the course policies, the syllabus, lecture notes, copies of the handouts, paleontology-related web links, and other features. Please feel free to utilize this resource, and email Drs. Holtz & Merck with any suggestions on improving this resource.
    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.

    Policies: The University has provided a page on Academic policies. Each student is responsible for reviewing this page with regards to issues of Academic Integrity; the Code of Student Conduct; Sexual Misconduct; Discrimination; Accessibility; Attendance, Absences, or Missed Assignments; Student Rights Regarding Undergraduate Courses; Official UMD Communication; Mid-Term Grades; Complaints About Course Final Grades; Copyright and Intellectual Property; Final Exams and Course Evaluations; and Campus Resources.

    Communication in this course will primarily be by means of the ELMS Inbox email system. In cases of inclement weather or other unexpected emergencies, the University may close. Please consult the University main webpage ( or call 301-405-7669 (SNOW) to confirm such cancellations. Drs. Holtz & Merck will contact students via ELMS in order to inform them concerning delays of due dates for projects to be handed in or for exams: typically these will be shifted until the next available class date.

    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 Drs. Holtz & Merck (in class, after class, over email, etc.) for an explanation or clarification.

    Copyright © 2016 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and John W. Merck, Jr. as to this syllabus, all lectures, and all written material provided in this course. 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. Violations of this prohibition will be treated as violations of the University Honors Code and reported and dealt with accordingly.

  • Syllabus & Lecture Notes

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

    Last modified: 16 August 2016