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BB30131: Evolution in deep time

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2014/5
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Biology & Biochemistry
Further information on credits Credits: 6
Further information on unit levels Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Further information on teaching periods Period: Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: ES 100%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Essay 1 (ES 50%)
  • Essay 2 (ES 50%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment: Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: In taking this unit, knowledge from BB20040 (Concepts in Ecology and Evolution) is helpful, but is not required. Some background reading will be recommended if requested.
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
To develop an understanding 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 discuss 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.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

BB30131 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Biology & Biochemistry Programmes in Natural Sciences
  • UXXX-AFB01 : BSc(Hons) Natural Sciences (Year 3)
  • UXXX-AAB02 : BSc(Hons) Natural Sciences with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UXXX-AKB02 : BSc(Hons) Natural Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UXXX-AFM01 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences (Year 3)
  • UXXX-AKM02 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences with Professional Placement (Year 4)
  • UXXX-AAM02 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences with Study year abroad (Year 4)

* This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2014/15 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2015/16 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2014/15.
* Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.
* Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.