ERSC 3360, Fall 2006

 Instructor: Stephen A. Leslie  Lecture: Tueseday 9:00 – 10:40 AM
 Office: 307 Fribourgh Hall  Laboratory: Thursday 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
 Office hours: TR 1:00 - 2:00 PM  

Textbook: Prothero, D.R., 2004. Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology.Second Edition, McGraw-Hill.



Week 1

Aug 29 & 31

TUESDAY: Introduction The fossil Record. [Text: Ch. 1.]

Visit the Cambrian Explosion web-site at the University of Bristol Department of Earth Sciences and read about The Cambrian "Explosion" , and then visit the webiste at the University California at Berkely Museum of Paleontology that describes the Cambrian and Cambrian stratigraphy.

THURSDAY:Lab 1: Fossil Preservation

Paleoliteracy: Fossil, Permineralization, Biocenosis, Taphonomy, Thanatocenosis, Necrolysis, Lagerstätte, Hunsrück Shale, Holzmaden, Burgess Shale, Solnhofen, Chengjiang, Messel, Mazon Creek

Not all of the Paleoliteracy words here, or in subsequent weeks, are in your chapter or you Glossary! What to do? Do an internet search on all the words, but be careful to read the pages carefully. As you all know, there is a lot of junk on-line! When in doubt, ask in class and we will talk about it.

Week 2

Sept 5 & 7

TUESDAY: Variation in Fossils. [Text: Ch. 2]

THURSDAY:Paleoliteracy: Ontogeny, Accretionary growth, Growth by Addition, Molting, Modification, Allometric Growth, Principle of Similitude, Heterochrony, Paedomorphosis, Peramorphosis, Gene Pool, Ecophenotypic Variation, Sexual Dimorphism.

Lab 2: Taphononmy.

This lab is an 'experimental taphonomy' exercise. The field of taphonomy has expanded greatly in the past few years. Visit the experimental taphonomy web-site at the University of Bristol Department of Earth Sciences to read and see what's decaying.

For a bit more information about taphonomy visit Dr. Gastaldo's 'A Brief Introduction to Taphonomy' web-site, and SUNY Cortland's web-ste on 'Taphonomy and Preservation'.

Week 3

Sept 12 & 14

TUESDAY: Species and Speciation. [Text: Ch. 3]

THURSDAY:Lab 3: Colonial Life: Porifera & Cnidaria [Text: Ch.12]

Paleoliteracy: Sympatric, Allopatric, Sibling species, Bergmann's Rule, Allen's Rule, Anagenesis, Pseudoextinction, Evolutionary Species Concept, Phyletic Gradualism, Punctuated Equilibrium

Week 4

Sept 19 & 21

TUESDAY: Systematics. [Text: Ch. 4. ]

Paleoliteracy: Systematics, Phenetics (=numerical taxonomy), Cladistics, Shared derived character, Out Group, Sister Group, Principle of Parismony, Monophyletic, Paraphyletic, Polyphyletic, ICZN, Holotype

THURSDAY:Lab 4: Lophophorates: Brachiopods and Bryozoans [Text: Ch. 13]

For more information about Byozoans check out the IBA's 'The Bryozoa' site (Yes, IBA stands for International Bryozoology Association!)

For more information on brachiopods check out BrachNet.

Week 5

Sept 26 & 28


The exam will cover information from chapters 1, 2, 3, 4,12 & 13, the lecture notes on the web pages, and the lectures. Remember that this includes the lectures on the material that you looked at in lab (i.e., chapter 12 & 13)

THURSDAY: Open lab time on Thursday September 28th. Use this time to work on Lab 4.

FIELD TRIP September 29 - Oct 1 to the Ordovician exposures of the Cincinnati arch. We will also vivt the Cincinnati Museum.

  • On this trip you will collect material for project.
  • Be sure to dress for the weather. Wear long pants, sturdy shoes, etc.
  • Bring a note pad and pencil.
Week 6

Oct 3 & 5

TUESDAY: Field trip shakedown and Micropaleontology lecture

THURSDAY:Lab 5: Micropaleontology. [Text: Ch. 11]

Paleoliteracy: No words this week!!!!

Week 7

Oct 10 & 12

TUESDAY: Evolution. [Text: Ch. 5]

THURSDAY:LAB EXAM 1: Microfossils, Profiera, Cnidaria, Bryozoans, Brachiopods. know the systematics to the level that we used in the lab, know the ranges, and know the "parts"

Week 8

Oct 17 & 19

TUESDAY: Extinction [Text: Ch.6]

THURSDAY:Lab 6: Arthropoda [Text: Ch.14]

Paleoliteracy: Natural Selection, Genotype, Phenotype, Panselectionism, Mass Extinction, Red Queen Hypothesis, Iridium, Chicxulub, Stishovite, K/T boundary, Tektite, Frasnian, Famennian, Disparity, Diversity.

Week 9

Oct 24 & 26

No formal class this week. Geology programe field class to the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting.

 Week 10

Oct 31 &

Nov 2

Paleoecology. [Text: Ch. 8] (if we have time Functional Morphology. [Text: Ch. 7])

TUESDAY: Paleoliteracy: Benthic, Infaunal, Epifaunal, Supratidal, Intertidal, littoral, Subtidal, Bathyal, Abyssal, Hadal, Pelagic Organism, Neritic Realm, Oceanic Realm, Planktonic, Nektonic, Trophic Structure, Environmental Limiting Factor, Aerobic, Dysaerobic, Euryhaline, Stenohaline, Calcite Compensation Depth, Photic Zone, Isotope, Tiering, Evolutionary Fauna, Escalation.

THURSDAY: Lab 7: Mollusca. [Text: Ch. 15]

Week 11

Nov 7 & 9

Finish Lab 7 on Tuesday

EXAM 2 on Thursday

The exam will cover information from chapters 5, 6, (7), 8, 12, 13, 14 & 15, the lecture notes on the web pages, and the lectures. Remember that this includes the lectures on the material that you looked at in lab (i.e., chapter 12, 13, 14 & 15)

Week 12

Nov 14 & 16

TUESDAY: Biogeography [Text: Ch.9] & Biostratigraphy [Text Ch. 10]

Paleoliteracy: Ecological Biogeography, Historical Biogeography, Dispersalist Biogeography, Vicariance Biogeography. Faunal Succession, Range Zone, Facies Fossil, Index Fossil, FAD, LAD, Lazarus Taxa, Elvis Taxa, Zombie Effect, Graphic Correlation.

THURSDAY: Lab 8 Echinodermata. [Text: Ch.16]

Week 13

Nov 21

TUESDAY: Lab 9: Hemichordata

Check out the Graptolites here, or the Graptolite Working Group web page.


Week 14

Nov 28 & 30

TUESDAY: Field trip to Leslie, AR to collect Mississippian fossils. Leave at 8:00 AM return by 4:00 PM

THURSDAY: Work on project and Lab reports. No formal class.

Week 15

Dec 5 & 7

TUESDAY: Field trip to Arkadephia, AR to collect Cretaceous and Tertiary fossils. Leave at 8:00 AM return by 4:00 PM

THURSDAY: Fossilized behavior: Trace Fossils

Week 16

Dec 12


THURSDAY: Chordata and their relatives [Text Ch. 18]

Projects due

FINAL EXAM Thursday Dec 19 8:00 - 10:00 AM



Course objective. Paleobiology emphasizes the study of fossils as organisms. In this course you will be introduced to the vast array of information that may be gleaned through the study of fossil organisms. During lectures we will discuss the methods used to interpret the fossil record, and cover topics such as ontogeny, speciation, phylogeny and systematics, functional anatomy, biogeography, biostratigraphy, paleoecology, and macroevolution. The laboratories will focus on paleobiological principles that can be demonstrated by the major groups of invertebrates that are common in the geologic record. The primary goals of this class are to develop an understanding of the Earth's inhabitants through geologic time, to discuss how and where these organisms lived, how they interacted, and the relationships among these taxa. This information is the foundation upon which we can ask pertinent questions about the origin of life, as well as questions about the biotic response to climate and sea-level fluctuation though time, which is the essence of global change.


Grading. Final grades will be calculated from the following values:

 Exam 1 = 75 pts.  A = 90% or more (630 pts. or more)
 Exam 2 = 100 pts.  B = 80 - 89% (560 - 629 pts.)
 Final Exam = 150 pts.  C = 70 - 79% (490 - 559 pts.)
 Labs = 100 pts.  D = 60 - 69% (420 - 489 pts.)
 Lab Exam 1 = 50 pts.  F = less than 60% (419 pts. or less)
Lab Exam 2 = 100 pts.  
Project = 75 pts  
Paleoliteracy quizes 50 pts.  
Total 700 points

Paleoliteracy quizzes. Most weeks I will give a quiz. This is a basic vocabulary quiz. There are paleoliteracy lists on the syllabus. For the quiz I will select 5 words from the week's list, and you must define these words in class. These quizzes will be on the Thursday class unless I announce otherwise in lecture or on the syllabus. The idea is that you need to know these words in order to understand the lecture and the reading assignments. Most of the words come from the bold text words in Bringing Fossils to Life, and they are in the book's glossary. A few words you will need to look up on your own.

Attendance and Make-up Policy. Class attendance is expected; laboratory attendance is mandatory. You are responsible for all material covered that you miss due to illness, etc. If you must miss an exam, contact me with your excuse before the start of the exam. Failure to do this will result in a 0% for the missed exam. Make-up exams will only be given to students who contact me with a legitimate excuse before the start of the scheduled exam. Students who know they must miss a scheduled exam for a legitimate reason (I will determine what is legitimate) may be able to take the exam early; you must see me first.

Disability Support Services. It is the policy of UALR to accommodate students with disabilities, pursuant to federal law and state law. Any student with a disability who needs accommodation, for example in arrangements for seating, examinations, note-taking should inform the instructor at the beginning of the course. It is also the policy and practice of UALR to make web-based information accessible to students with disabilities. If you, as a student with a disability, have difficulty accessing any part of the online course materials for this class, please notify the instructor immediately. The chair of the department offering this course is also available to assist with accommodations. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Support Services, telephone 501-569-3143 (v/tty), and on the Web at