Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide the basics of Paleontology, with particular reference to the importance of the fossils in the theory of evolution and the application of the same in the phylogenetic, paleoenvironmental, paleoclimatic and stratigraphic reconstructions.
Through the systematic paleontology and the comparison with modern examples, the course provides a taxonomic and phylogenetic framework useful to understand the history of the evolution of life on Earth in relation to the great geological and paleoclimatic changes.
Basic knowledge of Biology, Zoology and Geology.
Course contents summary
Introduction to the Paleontology, fossils, Comparative anatomy, Theory of Evolution, invertebrates and vertebrates taxonomy.
1) Introduction to the course; Paleontology and Paleobiology: definition, historical development, subdivisions and applications.
2) The fossils, biostratinomy and taphonomy; Principle of superposition, relative dating and absolute (radiometric) dating.
3) The concept of species, systematics, taxonomy, classification and nomenclature.
4) Actualism, uniformitarianism and catastrophism; fossils and environment (Paleoecology and Paleoclimatology).
5) The geologic time, fossils in time and space (basics of biostratigraphy and palaeobiogeography).
6) Comparative Anatomy, concept of homology and analogy, correlation of the organs, ontogeny and phylogeny, biogenetic law.
7) Fossils and Evolution; history of evolution; theories of Lamarck and Darwin; Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, Evo Devo.
8) The Microevolution: the processes of speciation; the contributions of Paleontology to the problems of Microevolution.
9) The Macroevolution with particular reference to the great mass extinctions, modes, causes and role in the evolution;
10) The phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibria; cladistics.
11) Processes of fossilization.
12) Study of the principal stages of the history of life on Earth through the Systematic Paleontology:
• Invertebrates: - Porifera;
- Coelenterates; theory of the formation of the atolls;
- Mollusks: gastropods; lamellibranches; Polyplacophora;
monoplacophora; scaphopods, cephalopods;
- Echinoderms (echinoids and crinoids),
• The chordates:
- Vertebrates - fish;
- Amphibians; (Onset of respiration);
- Reptiles; (Amniotic egg);
- Birds; (Skeleton tire and flight)
- Synapsidi (mammal-like reptiles);
- Mammals; The Quaternary mammals of the Po Plain.
Vialli Vittorio, 1998. Lezioni di paleontologia. 248 p., ill., 2 ed. Editore Pitagora
Lectures in the classroom;