GEOL 331/BSCI 333 Principles of Paleontology

Fall Semester 2020

The Early Cretaceous reef-forming rudist clam Eoradiolites at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science


(Day is given for synchronous meetings (which will be at 9:30 am Eastern) and labs. Weeks indicate the week during which lectures should be viewed; material related to them will be discussed on the discussion meeting the following week.)

Week of Aug. 31
9/1 Zoom: Introduction to the Course; Course Logistics
9/3 LAB: Fossilization & Taphonomy
Lecture: What Good is the Fossil Record?
Lecture: Taphonomy: Making a Fossil Record
Reading: Chap. 1

Week of Sept. 8
9/8 Zoom: Fossilization and Loss of Information
9/10 LAB: Micropaleontology
Lecture: Trace Fossils
Lecture: Variation & Fossil Individuals
Reading: Chaps. 1, 19
9/11 PaleoDB Homework due

Week of Sept. 14
9/15 Zoom: Ichnology; Growth & Variation
9/17 LAB: Sponges & Corals
9/17 Lab Quiz 1
Lecture: Fossil Species & Alpha Taxonomy
Lecture: Biostratigraphy
Reading: Chaps. 3, 10

Week of Sept. 21
9/22 Zoom: Taxonomy; Biostratigraphy
9/24 LAB: Bryozoans
9/24 Lab Quiz 2
Lecture: Macroevolution in the Fossil Record
Lecture: Cladistics & Phylogenetic Inference
Reading: Chaps. 4, 5
Online Reading: Cladistics for Palaeontologists from the Paleontological Association: Introduction, Cladistic Characters, Tree-Building, Optimization
9/25 Biostratigraphy Homework Due

Week of Sept. 28
9/29 Zoom: Macroevolution; Phylogenetics; Exam Review
9/30-10/2 MIDTERM EXAM I
10/1 LAB: Brachiopods
10/1 Lab Quiz 3
Lecture: Archean Fossils & Life's Origins
Lecture: Fossil Protists and Metazoan Origins I
Reading: Chaps. 8, 12
10/2 Alpha Taxonomy Homework Due

Week of Oct. 5
10/6 Zoom: Exam Post-mortem; Life's Origins and Micropaleontology
10/8 LAB: Gastropods & Cephalopods
10/8 Lab Quiz 4
Lecture: Metazoan Origins II; Sponges
Lecture: Overview of Animal Phylogeny & Cnidarians
Reading: Chaps. 13, 14
10/9 Phylogenetic Analysis Homework Due

Week of Oct. 12
10/13 Zoom: Animal Origins; Sponges; Cnidarians
10/15 LAB: Bivalves
10/15 Lab Quiz 5
Lecture: Ediacaran Metazoans & the Cambrian Explosion
Lecture: Animals with Lophophores: Bryozoans & Brachiopods
Reading: Chap. 14
Online Reading: Cunningham et al. 2017. BioEssays 39:1-12. doi:10.1002/bies.201600120

Week of Oct. 19
10/20 Zoom: Bilaterian Origins; Bryozoans; Brachiopods
10/22 LAB: Arthropods
10/22 Lab Quiz 6
Lecture: Mollusca I
Lecture: Mollusca II
Reading: Chap. 16

Week of Oct. 26
10/27 Zoom: Mollusks; Midterm Review
10/29 LAB: Pelmatozoans
10/29 Lab Quiz 7
Lecture: Basal Panarthropoda
Lecture: Arthropoda I
Reading: Chap. 15

Week of Nov. 2
11/3 GENERAL ELECTION: Are you registered to vote? Do you need to vote with an absentee ballot? Get ready in advance!
11/3 Zoom: Exam Post-mortem; Arthropods and kin
11/5 LAB: Eleutherozoans, Hemichordates (incl. Graptolithina)
11/5 Lab Quiz 8
Lecture: Arthropoda II
Lecture: Basal Deuterostomes; Echinodermata I
Reading: Chaps. 15, 17
11/6 Phylogenetic Inferences Homework Due

Week of Nov. 9
11/10 Zoom: Arthropods (cont.); Deuterostomes
11/12 LAB: Vertebrate Paleontology
11/12 Lab Quiz 9
Lecture: Echinodermata II
Lecture: Chordates & Paleoichthyology
Reading: Chaps. 17, 18
11/13 Paleoecology Homework Due

Week of Nov. 16
11/17 Zoom: Echinoderms; Chordates (incl. Vertebrates)
11/19 LAB: Paleobotany
11/19 Lab Quiz 10
Lecture: Tetrapod Paleontology
Lecture: Paleobotany
Reading: Chaps. 18, 20

Week of Nov. 23
11/24 Zoom: Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleobotany
Lecture: Biomechanics & Functional Morphology
Reading: Chap. 7
11/25-29 THANKSGIVING RECESS: Enjoy your roasted dinosaur

Week of Nov. 30
12/1 Zoom: Biomechanics & Functional Morphology
12/3 LAB: Fossils in Context
12/3 Lab Quiz 11
Lecture: Morphometrics
Lecture: Paleoecology & Paleoenvironments
Reading: Chaps. 7, 8
12/4 Paleontology Potpourri Homework Due

Week of Dec. 7
12/8 Zoom: Morphometrics; Paleoecology
12/10 LAB: Final Exam Review
12/3 Lab Quiz 12
Lecture: Macroecological Patterns: Large-Scale Phenomena of the Fossil Record
Lecture: The Future of Paleontology
Reading: Chap. 6

Week of Dec. 14
12/16-18 FINAL EXAM

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

(Note: Syllabus may be altered based on unfolding circumstances.)

Last modified: 7 December 2020
Permineralized conifer wood of the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation from Petrified Forest National Park