Invertebrate Paleontology

Melissa Lobegeier

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


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Course Context:

This is an upper-division required paleontology course with prerequisites of introductory earth science and historical geology.

Course Goals:

  • Students should be able to interpret the mode of life (terrestrial vs. aquatic, autotrophic vs. heterotrophic, benthic vs. planktonic) of fossil organisms based on their morphology to evaluate diversity and the non-randomness of form.
  • Students should be able to evaluate the fossils (identification, mode of life, taphonomy) and characteristics of sedimentary rocks (lithology, stratigraphy) of unfamiliar outcrops to be able to predict the outcrops depositional environment and age.
  • Students should be able to apply paleontological data to the exploration of critical problems such as mass extinctions and climate change.

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

I will not continue to follow the standard lecture and lab but will break work up over the 5 hours of class time that we have. Invertebrate phyla have been matched with content areas and the activities and lab questions related to that phylum will be tailored around the content area. The content areas assist in meeting either goals 1 and 2 or both. Case studies using different phyla are introduced throughout the semester and relate to goal 3. Whether students have met the goals will be assessed in a variety of ways including activities, worksheets, quizzes and exams.

Skills Goals

  • observation skills
  • working in groups
  • accessing and critically reading the geological literature


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