GEOS 212
Paleobiology Spring 2022
Division III
Cross-listed GEOS 212 / BIOL 211

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. We will explore how, why, when, and where fossils form and learn about the major groups of fossilized organisms and how they have changed through time. In addition, 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’ 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, including using the programming language R (no previous experience is required). We will also view a diversity of fossils in their geologic and paleo-environmental context on our field trip to Eastern New York. This course is in the Sediments and Life group for the Geosciences major.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory; One day field trip to the the Paleozoic of New York State
Limit: 24
Expected: 20
Class#: 3173
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Weekly lab assignments, frequent short quizzes and writing assignments, and a final project with a written and oral presentation component.
Prerequisites: any 100-level GEOS course or BIOL 102, 203 or 205
Enrollment Preferences: sophomore and junior GEOS majors
Unit Notes: does not satisfy the distribution requirement for the Biology major
Distributions: Division III
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GEOS 212 Division III BIOL 211 Division III
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
MAST Interdepartmental Electives

Class Grid

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