Course Description: Vertebrate Zoology (Biology 315L) is a broad-based survey of the biological diversity and evolution of the vertebrate animals. Special emphasis is placed on morphology, physiology, paleontology, and ecology, as related to evolutionary history. The laboratory introduces the student to the fundamentals of vertebrate anatomy through the dissection of the lamprey, the dogfish shark, and the domestic cat. Other lab exercises deal with biomechanical analysis, species identification, and reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships.
Prerequisites: Biology 182L. 1 1/4 credits.
Required Text: Vertebrate Life, 8th ed., by F. Harvey Pough, Chris M. Janis, and John B. Heiser (2009). Benjamin Cummings Publ.
Lab Manual: Vertebrate Dissection, 9th ed., by Dominique G. Homberger and Warren F. Walker (2003). Saunders, New York.
Also needed: A basic dissection kit that includes scissors, forceps, and scalpel. An inquisitive mind, and a fascination and reverence for life. Protective gloves are optional.
Grading: Final letter grades are based on lecture exams, lab practicals, lab assignments, journal article summaries, and lab quizzes. The lab represents a substantial portion of the points that can be earned in the course.
Course schedule (recent version)
Lecture 1. What are Vertebrates?
Lecture 2. Vertebrate Classification and Phylogeny
LAB 1: PHYLOGENY AND CLASSIFICATION OF VERTEBRATES
Lecture 3. Chordate Development
Lecture 4. Vertebrate Origins
LAB 2: BODY PLAN OF VERTEBRATES AND OTHER CHORDATES
Lecture 5. Evolution of Vertebrates
Lecture 6. Origins of Jaws; Chondrichthyan Evolution
LAB 3: SKELETO-MUSCULAR ANATOMY IN SHARKS
Lecture 7. Life in Water
Lecture 8. Osteichthyan Evolution
LAB 4: Quiz #1 (Labs 1-3); VISCERAL MORPHOLOGY OF THE SHARK
Lecture 9. Exam #1 (Lectures 1-8)
Lecture 10. Invasion of the Land: Origin & Radiation of Tetrapods
Lecture 11. Biology of Living “Amphibians”
Lecture 12. Last Day to Turn in Journal Article Summary #1
LAB 5: SENSE ORGANS AND NERVOUS SYSTEM ORGANIZATION
Lecture 13. Diversity of (Non-Avian) Reptiles
Lecture 14. Life in the Mesozoic
LAB 6: BRAIN & CRANIAL NERVES IN THE SHARK
Lecture 15.Research Lecture: Evolution of Viviparity in Reptiles
Lecture 16. Origins of Birds, Feathers, and Flight
LAB 7: LAB PRACTICAL (Labs 1- 6)
Lecture 17. Avian Diversity
Lecture 18. Avian Flight (Prof. Morrison)
LAB 8: AMNIOTE SKELETONS
Lecture 19. Exam #2 (Lectures 9-15)
Lecture 20. Synapsids, Therapsids, and the Origins of Mammals
Lecture 21. Last Day to Turn in Journal Article Summary #2
LAB 9: MAMMALIAN MUSCULATURE I
Lecture 22. Mammal Diversity and Reproductive Patterns
Lecture 23. Functional Morphology: Terrestrial Locomotion
LAB 10: MAMMALIAN MUSCULATURE II
Lecture 24. Evolution of Vertebrate Brains
Lecture 25. Evolution of Hominids and Other Primates
LAB 11: Quiz #2 (Labs 8-10); VISCERAL MORPHOLOGY OF MAMMALS
Lecture 26. Exam #3 (Lectures 17-21)
Lecture 27. Homework: Dissection of Meleagris gallipavo
LAB 12: FUNCTIONAL ORGANIZATION OF THE MAMMALIAN BRAIN
Lecture 28. Human Evolution and Modern Diversity
Lecture 29. Vertebrate Extinctions and the Future of the Biosphere
Last Day to Turn in Journal Article Summary #3