Introduction to Skeletons

Jack Farmer
Arizona State University/School of Earth and Space Exploration
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This lab presents a specimen-based study of the different skeletal systems of animals and plants. The emphasis is on understanding the functional roles mineralized skeletons play in the major skeletonzied phyla comprising the fossil record, how skeletons grow and develop and what biological information they contain. As background for the main topic, students also learn about processes of biomineralization, the coelom as a hydrostatic skeleton and the Cambrian Explosion of skeletal invertebrates at the base of the Cambrian Period..

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GLG 430 is a required course for students majoring in geological sciences and an elective course for biology majors. Graduate students can receive credit by doing additional work (research project).

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic biology. Historical Geology.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a laboratory exercise given the second week of classes that presents foundational material for the remainder of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal of this activity is for students to understand the skeletal systems of animals and the paleobiological information encoded in skeletons.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Interpretation of skeletal morphology to extract information about the growth and ontogenetic development of animals. This involves the synthesis and application of concepts of growth and development to interpret skeletal morphology, the formulation of hypotheses and tests by observation and/or experiment.

Other skills goals for this activity

Writing and drawing specimens to create concept sketches. Observation, analysis and test. Working in groups.

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a specimen-based lab exercise that is designed to introduce students to the different types of skeletal systems of animals and the paleobiological information they encode.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Interactions with instructor and TA and group discussions and responses to lab exercise questions.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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