BIOL 211 Spring 2013 Paleobiology

Cross Listed as GEOS212
The fossil record is a direct window into the history of life on Earth and contains a wealth of information on evolution, biodiversity, and climate change. This course investigates the record of ancient life forms, from single-celled algae to snails to dinosaurs. In addition to the intellectual discovery of fossils as organic relics and the ways in which fossils have been used to support conflicting views on nature, geologic time, and evolution, we will cover a range of topics central to modern paleobiology. These include: how the fossil record informs our understanding of evolutionary processes including speciation; the causes and consequences of mass extinctions; how fossils help us tell time and reconstruct the Earth's climactic and tectonic history; statistical analysis of the fossil record to reconstruct biodiversity through time; analysis of fossil morphology to recreate the biomechanics of extinct organisms; and using fossil communities to reconstruct past ecosystems. Laboratory exercises will take advantage of Williams' superb fossil collections as well as published datasets to introduce the major fossil groups and preservation styles as well as to provide a broad understanding of the history of life on Earth. We will also view a diversity of fossils in their geologic and paleo-environmental context on field trips.
Class Format: lecture/laboratory; field trip to the the Paleozoic of New York State and the Triassic/Jurassic of central Massachusetts
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on weekly lab assignments, a midterm paper, a lab practicum, and a final exam
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Prerequisites: any 100-level Geosciences course or Biology 102, 203 or 205
Enrollment Preference:
Department Notes: does not satisfy the distribution requirement in the Biology major
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division III
Other Attributes: GEOS Oceanography, Stratigraphy + Sedimentation,MAST Interdepartmental Electives
Enrollment Limit: 15
Expected Enrollment: 12
Class Number: 3178
BIOL211-01(S) LEC Invertebrate Paleobiology Division 3: Science and Mathematics Phoebe A. Cohen
TR 09:55 AM-11:10 AM Clark Hall 204 3178
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