Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Course Descriptions > Principles of Paleontology

Principles of Paleontology

Steven J. Hageman

Appalachian State University
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


Morphology, phylogeny, temporal distribution, and paleoecology of fossils, with emphasis on applying invertebrates to the recognition of ancient environments and environmental change through geologic time. Biological evolution is studied in the scope of the history of the earth.

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 elective paleontology course with a prerequisite of a sophomore-level course in either geology, biology or archeology. The course has a required three-hour laboratory and two required one-day field trips.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to explain the conditions under which fossils are preserved and evaluate the implication for interpreting the history of life at all scales.

Students should be able to interpret and reconstruct ancient environments based on analysis of paleo-faunas and floras.

Students should be able to analyze and interpret the life modes of major groups of organisms and describe the relationship between morphological characteristics and the organism's ecology.

Students should be able to interpret changes in the composition and diversity of life (fossils) through geologic time and space as a consequence of evolution, ecology and biogeography.

Students should develop the skills to recognize, collect and document fossil specimens in the field and appropriate procedures and techniques for preparing, handling and study.

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

Content in this course is presented in a combination of traditional lectures with discussion, specimen based laboratory practical exercises (individual and group). Field trips (one Paleozoic, one Cenozoic & Modern) provide application of concepts treated in lecture and laboratory. Exams and lab practicals provide assessment.

Skills Goals

Writing and speaking on a research topic.

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

Students write a research topic on an assigned topic in the format of a professional journal article. Students then create a stand alone web site based on their topic and finally present a short talk to class on their topic using their web site.

Attitudinal Goals

Most students have positive attitudes, by my goal is to emphasize the value of a broad paleontological knowledge to all fields of geology (i.e. goal is not training of future paleontologists, but more well rounded geologists, biologists and archaeologists).

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

I do not.




Syllabus - GLY-4025 Principles of Paleontology (Microsoft Word 1.5MB Jun4 09)

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