GEOL 331: Principles of Paleontology - University of Maryland

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					                                  GEOL 331: Principles of Paleontology
                                                  Fall Semester 2006

                                    Lecture: PLS 1172 1:00-1:50 pm MWF
                                       Lab: GEO 2107 2:00-5:00 pm F
                             Course Website:

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.                         Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216                         Office: Centreville 1218
Phone: x5-4084                                   Phone: x5-2808
E-mail:                      E-mail:
Office Hours: Tue 8:30-11 am or by appointment   Office Hours: Thurs 3-5 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment

NOTE: It is your responsibility as a student to completely read through and understand this syllabus. If you
have questions about it, please contact Dr. Holtz or Dr. Merck. You will be held responsible for following all
requirements of this syllabus.

Course Organization: 3 meetings per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), 1 laboratory per week (Friday).

Grade: Test 1: 20%                 Labs:              20%
        Test 2: 20%                Lab Practical:     10%
        Final: 20%                 Paper:             10%
No separate extra credit assignments are planned for this course.

Grade Scale: ≥90, A; 80-89, B; 70-79, C; 60-69, D; <60, F. “+” and “-“ grades are given to the top and bottom two-
point range, respectively, within each grade.

Required Texts:
Lecture: Donald R. Prothero. 2004. Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology. WCB McGraw-Hill.
         457 pp.
Lab: E.N.K. Clarkson. 1998. Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution. Fourth Edition. Blackwell Science. 452 pp.

(Additional reading resources, not required for this class, are listed after the syllabus and on the web page).

                  The Website contains a copy of the course policies, the syllabus, lecture notes, copies of the
                  handouts, paleontology-related web links, and other features. Please feel free to utilize this
                  resource, and email Drs. Holtz & Merck with any suggestions on improving this resource.

Policies:          Academic integrity: The University of Maryland has a nationally recognized Code of Academic
                   Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic
                   integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are
                   responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware
                   of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information
                   on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

                   The University of Maryland is one of a small number of universities with a student-administered
                   Honors Code and an Honors Pledge, available on the web at
          The code prohibits students from cheating on
                   exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without
                   authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures. The
                   University Senate encourages instructors to ask students to write the following signed statement
                   on each examination or assignment: “I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any
                   unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment).”

Academic Accommodations: If you have a documented disability, you should contact Disability
Support Services 0126 Shoemaker Hall. Each semester students with documented disabilities
should apply to DSS for accommodation request forms which you can provide to your professors
as proof of your eligibility for accommodations. The rules for eligibility and the types of
accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the DSS web site at

Religious Observances: The University System of Maryland policy provides that students should
not be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs, students shall be given an
opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment
that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances. It is the responsibility of
the student to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance.
Notice should be provided as soon as possible but no later than the end of the schedule
adjustment period (September 13). Faculty should further remind students that prior
notification is especially important in connection with final exams, since failure to reschedule a
final exam before the conclusion of the final examination period may result in loss of credits
during the semester. The problem is especially likely to arise when final exams are scheduled on

Other: All work on tests, homework, etc. must be your own. Although group study can be very
useful, make sure that all your work you turn in is your own.

Absences from exams will not be excused except for those causes approved by University policy
(see p. 33-34 of the UMCP Undergraduate Catalog 2006/2007). Only those students excused for
these causes will be eligible for a make-up exam.

Quizzes will, for the most part, be unannounced, be at the start of class, and cover both the
readings and lectures.

Attendance in class is expected. Much of the information presented is not available in the
textbook. If you cannot make a certain lecture, try and find another student who might lend your
their notes. (In fact, establishing a study group early in the course has proven useful for many
students in the past). Furthermore, absence from class may result in you missing an unannounced

Keep up with the required readings! Although the format of the lectures and the chapters do not
always match, the readings are important as well. Some of the material to be tested is covered in
more detail in the readings than in class.

Readings should be done prior to the classtime they are listed.

NOTE: As part of the nature of the course, there will be a lot of memorization (less than a foreign
language class, but more than that found in more mathematically-oriented introductory science
classes). This will include lots of anatomical, geological, and paleontological terms, as well as
evolutionary and temporal relationships. If you have difficulty memorizing, this may not be the
class for you. Also, if there are words or concepts with which you are not familiar, feel free to ask
Drs. Holtz & Merck (in class or lab time, after class or lab, over email, etc.) for an explanation or

Course Evaluations: As with all CMPS classes, the course evaluations will be done online during
the last several weeks of the semester. The expectation is that all students will complete these.
This is YOUR chance to anonymously evaluate this class: please use this opportunity!

                                               MAIN SYLLABUS

Aug. 30    Introduction to Course: What is Paleontology?
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 1

Sept. 1    Review of the Major Fossil Makers
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 1
           LAB 1: Taphonomy: Clarkson Chap. 1 (pp.3-6)

Sept. 4    LABOR DAY—No Class

Sep. 6     Taphonomy I: Fossils as Sedimentary Particles and Burial
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 1

Sept. 8    Taphonomy II: Modes of Fossilization
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 1
           LAB 2: Micropaleontology: Clarkson Chap. 3 (pp.55-57)

Sep. 11    Taphonomy III: Lagerstätten
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 1

Sept. 13   Biostratigraphy I: Index Fossils and Correlation
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 10

Sept. 15   Biostratigraphy II: Zones
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 10
           LAB 3: Biostratigraphy: Clarkson Chap. 1 (pp. 20-23)

Sept. 18   Paleoenvironmental Analysis
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 8

Sept. 20   Trace Fossils I
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 18

Sept. 22   Trace Fossils II
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 18
           LAB 4: Poriferans and Cnidarians: Clarkson Chap. 4-5 (pp. 85-140)

Sept. 25   Variation and Fossil Individuals
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 2

Sept. 27   Fossil Species
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 3

Sept. 29   Extinction I
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 6
           LAB 5: Lophophorata: Clarkson Chap. 6-7 (pp. 143-194)

Oct. 2     Extinction II
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 6

Oct. 4     TEST I

Oct. 6     Evolution I: Patterns and Process
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 5

           LAB 6: Practical Phylogenetics

Oct. 9     Evolution II: Tempo and Mode
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 5

Oct. 11    Phylogenetics
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 4

Oct. 13    Functional Morphology
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 7
           LAB 7: Univalved Molluscs: Clarkson Chap. 8 (pp. 197-203, 222-257)

Oct. 16    Biogeography
           Readings: Prothero Chap. 9

Oct. 18, 20 No lectures or lab

Oct. 23    Precambrian Microfossils and Abiogenesis

Oct. 25    Precambrian Macrofossils: the Garden of Ediacara and the Long Fuse of the Cambrian Explosion

Oct. 27    Fossil Protists
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 11
           LAB 8: Bivalves: Clarkson Chap. 8 (pp. 203-221)

Oct. 29    Daylight Savings Time ends: Set your clocks so that you don’t miss class!

Oct. 30    Poriferans and Cnidarians
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 12

Nov. 1     Basal Bilateralians and Lophophorates I
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 13
           Paper Topics Due

Nov. 3     Lophophorates II
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 13
           LAB 9: Arthropoda: Clarkson Chap. 11 (pp. 348-400)

Nov. 6     Mollusks I: Squidgers (Basal Forms through Gastropods)
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 15

Nov. 8     Mollusks II: Cephalopods
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 15
           Paper Initial Bibliography Due

Nov. 10    Mollusks III: Bivalves
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 15
           LAB 10: Echinodermata: Clarkson Chap. 9, (pp. 262-315)

Nov. 13    TEST II

Nov. 15    Arthropods I: Basal forms, Myriapods, Chelicerates
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 14

Nov. 17    Arthropods II: Trilobites
           Reading: Prothero Chap. 14

             LAB 11: Graptolites and Vertebrates: Clarkson Chap. 10 (pp. 318-346)

Nov. 20      Arthropods III: Mandibulates
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 14

Nov. 22      Echinoderms I: “Pelmatozoans”
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 16

Nov. 23-26         Thanksgiving Recess: enjoy your roasted dinosaur

Nov. 27      Echinoderms II: Eleutherozoans
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 16

Nov. 29      Graptolites and Basal Chordates
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 17

Dec. 1       Vertebrate Paleontology I: Conodonts. “Cyclostomes”, and “Ostracoderms”
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 17
             LAB 12: Paleobotany

Dec. 4       Vertebrate Paleontology II: Gnathostomes
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 17

Dec. 6       Paleobotany
             Reading: Prothero Chap. 19
             PAPERS DUE!

Dec. 8       Major Patterns in Paleontology I
             LAB: PRACTICAL

Dec. 11      Major Patterns in Paleontology II

Dec. 15 (Friday) FINAL EXAM, PLS 1172, 1:30 -3:30 pm
           [PLEASE NOTE: Final Schedule according to Schedule of Classes, Fall 2006 First Edition.
Consult Final Edition for actual time and date, if any changes. Changes have been known to happen!]


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