Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Course Descriptions > Invertebrate Paleontology

Invertebrate Paleontology

Melissa Lobegeier

Middle Tennessee State University
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


Students study invertebrate and microscopic animal life, including the morphological trends, phylogenetic characteristics and evolutionary trends in the major invertebrate phyla.

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Paleontology
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Paleontology
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-division required paleontology course with prequisites of introduction to earth science and historical geology. The course has a required two-hour laboratory and a required two-day field trip.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to identify the major invertebrate phyla.
Students should be able to determine the geological age of a rock based upon the major invertebrate phyla present.
Students should be able to determine paleoenvironment and paleoclimate based on the major invertebrate phyla present.
Students should able to assess which phyla will help answer different research questions.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Lectures and lab exercises introduce students to the major invertebrate phyla and the information these phyla can provide on geological age and in terms of paleoenvironment and paleoclimate. Whether students have met the goals is assessed throught the final class project in which students identify fossil taxa and determine the paleoenvironment at different collecting localities and through the final exam that involves indentifaication of several phyla and use of those phyla to determine age and paleoenivronment of the collection localities.

Skills Goals

critical analysis of paleontological literature
student writing

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students must read specific papers about the different phyla and how these phyla are used by scientists today to make determinations about paleoenvironments and paleoclimates. Questions on the lab and exams are asked about these papers.

Attitudinal Goals

Changing student attitudes towards paleontology

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Whether students meet this goal is not formally assessed but I talk to students at the end of the semester about their thoughts on and attitudes towards paleontology


Student learning is assessed through short answer and essay questions on mid-semester and final exams, lab exercises and quizzes on the different invertebrate phyla and the fossil identification project


Invertebrate Paleontology Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 29kB Jun4 09)

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