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Department of Biology & Biochemistry, Unit Catalogue 2011/12

BB40192: Evolution in deep time

Click here for further information Credits: 6
Click here for further information Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Click here for further information Period: Semester 2
Click here for further information Assessment: CW 50%, EX 50%
Click here for further information Supplementary Assessment: Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Click here for further information Requisites: In taking this unit, knowledge of ecology and evolution is helpful, but is not required. Some background reading will be recommended if requested.
Click here for further information Description: Aims:
To provide an in-depth knowledge of the following issues:
a) Modern biology enables us to study perhaps 2% of the animal and plant species that have ever existed. How can we study the remaining 98%, and what can we learn from them?
b) The diversity of the evidence for evolution
c) Most modern major groups (Phyla) of animals, from the simplest to the most complex, appeared together, fully formed in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. This vexed Darwin, and is still problematic today. Was the explosion of design real, and how can we understand it?
d) How can we study evolution in deep time?
e) The nature of the fossil record.
f) The relationship between palaeontology, modern ecology and developmental biology.
g) Major patterns in the evolution of life (mass extinctions, major radiations and competition between groups).
h) The evolution, history and biomechanics of some major extinct groups (e.g., Dinosauria, Eurypterida)
i) The evolution of Man.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this course the student should be able to:
* utilise concepts from palaeobiology and neontology to critically evaluate theories of the diversification of multicellular life, the evolution of phyla, the nature of evolutionary processes, and the role of stochastic processes in macroevolution.

Learning and studying T/F/A, Written communication T/F/A, Information handling & retrieval T/F/A, Working independently T/F.

Why study extinct organisms?; The Cambrian explosion of animal design - Darwin's headache; Speciation and biodiversity throughout the fossil record; Molecular clocks; Bodyplans, fossils, development and molecular biology - is an integrated approach possible?; Reconstructing the tree of life - morphology, molecules or both?; Biomechanics of dinosaurs, giant marine reptiles and giant scorpions: what can we deduce about function and life history from fossils?; Can we find any general "rules" and patterns in the history of Life?; The evolution of large size; Competition between clades and clade replacement (examples from fish and tetrapods); What influences the success of lineages through time?; Recapitulation and heterochrony; Palaeobiogeography - the relationship between groups, continents and time; The evolution of Man.
Click here for further informationProgramme availability:

BB40192 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Biology & Biochemistry
  • RSBB-AFM07 : Integrated PhD Postgenomic Biosciences (Biosciences Route) (Full-time)
  • RSBB-AFM15 : Integrated PhD Postgenomic Biosciences (Evolutionary Biology Route) (Full-time)
  • TSBB-AFM03 : MRes Biosciences (Full-time)
  • TSBB-AFM15 : MRes Evolutionary Biology (Full-time)
  • TSBB-AFM06 : MSc Biosciences (Full-time)
  • TSBB-AFM08 : MSc Evolutionary and Population Biology (Full-time)

NB. Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.