Elizabeth Rhenberg,
Ohio State University


The course will teach the nature of the fossil record and how they are used in study of the history of the earth. Topics will include preservation, functional morphology, paleoecology, and systmatics among others. Labs will concentrate mostly on invertebrate fossils, their classification, anatomy, and evolution.

Course Size:
less than 15

Course Format:
Students enroll in one course that includes both lecture and lab. The lecture and the lab are both taught by the professor.

Course Context:

This is an upper division course with introductory geology course prerequisites and does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. The students are mostly geology majors, but biology students may also take the course. The lab is required for the course and counts for 20% of the final grade.

Course Content:

This course focuses on the fossil record and their importance in geology. The labs focus on the fossils themselves and how to identify them in the rocks. Field trips will be taken for the students to collect their own fossils as well as learning how to interpret the environments in which they are found.

Course Goals:

  1. understand and be able to apply paleontological principles and methods
  2. have a basic understanding of the major invertebrate groups that make up the fossil record
  3. be able to apply paleontology to solving problems in related fields of science
  4. be able to write and communicate scientific information at a level appropriate for their college-level

Course Features:

This course will involve a presentation and report on the fossils collected on the field trip. Some will report on a particular fossil group while others will look into the paleoecology of the area.

Course Philosophy:

I choose this design because it is similar to how I was taught which works towards my style of teaching. The hope is that there are local outcrops for study so the students can learn about where they are living and make it easier for trips during labs. When nearby outcrops aren't available, a full day or weekend long field trip will be done.


Exams at different points during the semester as well as looking at their lab reports.


Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Bringing Fossils to Life - Donald Prothero
It contains both a systematic review of the fossils groups as well as important concepts of paleoecology