1 x 1-hour lecture weekly
5 x 4-hour practicals per semester
1 x 4-hour field trip-2 per semester
6 x 8-hour field trip-1s per semester
1 x 46-hour project work per semester
Enrolment not permitted
BIOL8706 has been successfully completed
Assumed knowledge
It is assumed students will have knowledge of first year Biology such as BIOL1101 Evolution of Biological Diversity
Assignment(s), Fieldwork, Laboratory exercise(s), Practical work
Topic description
Students will learn about the evolution of vertebrates and distinctive adaptive features of each major group. Content includes comparative anatomy, systematics and functional morphology, with an emphasis on the musculoskeletal system. It includes a week-long field trip (in the mid-semester break) to the Naracoorte Caves in southeastern Australia.
Educational aims
The aim of this topic is to provide students with an understanding of the diversity of the vertebrate body plan, and how the anatomy of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals relates to ecology and evolution.

The topic provides students with an opportunity to:

  1. Become familiar with key defining features of the major vertebrate groups, especially of the skeletal and muscular systems

  2. Link form with function, especially in relation to diet, locomotory capabilities, body size and posture

  3. Apply observational, recording and analytical skills introduced during BIOL1101, STAT1122, BIOL2701, and/or VISA2306

  4. Excavate and study vertebrate fossils in the field

  5. Learn how palaeobiological and palaeoecological information can be extracted from the fossil record.
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Apply general principles to the identification and classification of different Australian vertebrate groups

  2. Distinguish between different vertebrate groups based on dental and skeletal attributes

  3. Make deductions about the habits of extinct species

  4. Understand basic biomechanical principles

  5. Have some understanding of the methods used to document, excavate and transport fossils to a laboratory for further preparation and study

  6. Analyse a fossil vertebrate sample to make palaeoecological inferences.