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.
During the first class, information about the programm, the aims of the Course and the examination methods (oral examination) will be provided. Information on the teaching materials available for the students as well as a list of suggested text books will be provided.
INTRODUCTION TO PALEOBIOLOGY STUDY: Paleontology and Paleobiology: definition, historical development, subdivisions and applications. DI: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding.
THE FOSSILS: biostratinomy and taphonomy; Principle of superposition, relative dating and absolute (radiometric) dating. Processes of fossilization. DI: Knowledge and understanding.
GENERAL PALEONTOLOGY: The concept of species, systematics, taxonomy, classification and nomenclature. Actualism, uniformitarianism and catastrophism; fossils and environment (Paleoecology and Paleoclimatology). The geologic time, fossils in time and space (basics of biostratigraphy and palaeobiogeography). DI: Knowledge and understanding.
COMPARATIVE ANATOMY: concept of homology and analogy, correlation of the organs, ontogeny and phylogeny, biogenetic law. DI: Knowledge and understanding.
FOSSILS AND EVOLUTION: history of evolution; theories of Lamarck and Darwin; Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, Evo Devo. Micro and Macroevolution; The phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibria; cladistics. DI: Knowledge and understanding.
SISTEMATIC PALEOBIOLOGY: Study of the principal stages of the history of life on Earth through the Systematic Paleontology. DI: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding.
THE INTERTEBRATES: Porifera; Coelenterates; theory of the formation of the atolls; Brachiopods; Mollusks: Echinoderms (echinoids and crinoids),Trilobites; Graptolites. DI: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding.
THE CHORDATES: Urochordata; Cephalochordata. DI: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding.
THE 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. DI: Knowledge and understanding.
Vialli Vittorio, 1998. Lezioni di paleontologia. 248 p., ill., 2 ed. Editore Pitagora
Clipboard provided by the teacher in PDF format by sharing on Google Drive
Lectures in the classroom;
Field workshops for investigation of the taphonomic and fossilization processes. Paleontological survey on variations of sedimentary facies and insights into fossil mammals of the Po river.
Assessment methods and criteria
The examination test is composed by three questions:
1) Definition and argumentation of general paleontology;
2) Taxonomical description of a taxon;
3) Paleontological description and classification of a fossil.
The exam is aimed at verifying the knowledge of discipline, taxonomic knowledge and the ability to practically apply the acquired theoretical concepts.