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
Knowledge such as can be obtained in 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.

Educational aims

This topic aims 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:

  • Become familiar with key defining features of the major vertebrate groups, especially of the skeletal and muscular systems
  • Link form with function, especially in relation to diet, locomotory capabilities, body size and posture
  • Apply observational, recording and analytical skills introduced during previous topics
  • Excavate and study vertebrate fossils in the field
  • Learn how palaeobiological and palaeoecological information can be extracted from the fossil record
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you 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

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.