BIOL 211
Paleobiology Spring 2015
Division III
Cross-listed BIOL 211 / GEOS 212
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

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 provide a broad understanding of fossils and the methods we use to study the history of life on Earth. We will also view a diversity of fossils in their geologic and paleo-environmental context on our field trip to Eastern New York.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory; field trip to the the Paleozoic of New York State
Limit: 15
Expected: 12
Class#: 3228
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on lab assignments, short quizzes and writing assignments, and a final exam
Prerequisites: any 100-level GEOS course or BIOL 102, 203 or 205
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and juniors
Unit Notes: does not satisfy the distribution requirement in the Biology major
Distributions: Division III
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
BIOL 211 Division III GEOS 212 Division III
Attributes: MAST Interdepartmental Electives

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