Request for Clearance by SOE Curriculum Committee, received 5/13/99.
Course Number: General Science 9.4
Course Title: Studies in Paleobiology
Dates of Approval: Department of Geology: Curriculum Committee for General Science: May 10, 1999
Format: 2 hrs lecture; 1 hr recitation, 2 hrs laboratory
Pre-requisites: Core 8.1 and Core 8.2
Bulletin Description: An inquiry- and lab-based study of important aspects of evolutionary paleontology and the history of life as illustrated by the fossil record. The course focuses on such issues as adaptation, size scaling, evolutionary processes, and paleoecology. One field trip to study modern beach environments and to collect fossils is required.
Projected Enrollment: 1 section of 25 students per semester taught.
First Offering: Spring 2000 or Fall 2000
Clearance: School of Education
Course Structure: In this course laboratory work will be entirely integrated with lecture topics and class discussion. All work will be done in a single room during two 150-minute periods each week. The work for the course will consist of seven research projects, each requiring about two weeks to complete, and designed to reveal important facets of the fossil record, the history of life, and evolutionary paleontology. The overall goal is to give students a perspective on the historical development of the modern biosphere that they will find useful when treating natural history issues as elementary school teachers. The function of the instructor will be primarily to guide students through difficult passages in the research and to provide the background information needed to properly prepare students for each project. Students will be divided into small research groups. Members of a research group will operate as a team in performing the work necessary to complete assignments. The research projects consist of measurements and observations made on fossils, rocks, and related materials, and analysis and interpretation of experimental results. Mathematical skills and science knowledge required for these analyses will be at a level consonant with the skills of students who have completed the math and science core courses and expected of undergraduate majors in elementary education. Mini-symposia will be held periodically during the semester at which research results will be presented by one research team and discussed by the class generally. Each research team will make at least one such presentation. The purpose of these presentations is to give students experience in organizing, illustrating, and presenting information in front of a class, - all skills they will need to develop to achieve an effective classroom presence as a teacher. In addition, each student will be required to submit to the instructor a written report of each research project. Students will receive a grade for the course based on the quality of their individual lab reports, their research team reports, their participation in the activities of the laboratory exercises, and a final examination. Some library and internet work also is required.
Course Syllabus: The course consists of seven lab-based research projects organized into three modules. Each module consists of projects organized around a central theme drawn from subject areas in evolutionary paleontology and the history of life.
Module I: Form, Function, and Adaptation (approximately 4 weeks)
1. Mathematical Representation of Shape in Coiled Shells: Equiangular spirals; representation of helically coiled shell geometry in snails; measurement of shell form in Mesozoic and Cenozoic snail shells; correlation between life style and shell morphology; analysis and interpretation of temporal trends in shell form. 2. Size Scaling in Marine Bivalves: Isometry, allometry; and related growth strategies; scaling rules for change in body dimensions due to growth; shell form and life style of bivalves of the New York Bight; measurement and analysis of growth related change in bivalve shell shape; interpretation of bivalve lifestyle changes during growth. 3. Symposium I: Research team presentations and group discussion of Module I subjects
Module II: Evolutionary Paleontology (approximately 6 weeks)
1. Battleships and Snowshoes: Evolution of Devonian Brachiopods: Brachiopod shell morphology; substrate types and brachiopod adaptive strategies; measurement of shell form in members of an evolving brachiopod lineage from the middle Devonian of New York; correlations between morphological change, speciation, and paleoenvironmental change. 2. The Real Arms Race: Ammonoids and Crustaceans: Ammonoid shell form and life style; measurement of shell ornament in Paleozoic and Mesozoic ammonoids using figures and other data in the ammonoid volume of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology; diversity through time of crustaceans and other shell crushing predators; temporal trends in ornamentation and correlation with diversification patterns of shell crushing predators. 3. The Luck of the Draw: The Role of Contingency in the History of Life: Computer modeling of evolutionary patterns using a computer program developed by S.J. Gould et al. (Paleobiology, 1977, 3:23-40) which plots diversity of hypothetical lineages through time. Students enter different values for such factors as speciation probability, adaptive value, extinction probability, and fecundity, and examine the evolutionary trees produced to infer the effect of input conditions and such stochastic factors as mass extinction, and to compare the hypothetical results to real evolutionary trees. This work can be done using college computer labs, or on students' home computers. Although for the first offering of the course this exercise will be conducted in a traditional lab setting, the plan is to make it a web-based, "virtual" lab for subsequent offerings. 4. Symposium II: Research team presentations and group discussion of Module II subjects
Module III: Paleoecology (approximately 4 weeks)
1. Was Jurassic Park right? Dinosaurs as athletes: Posture in modern vertebrates and dinosaurs; stride length, leg length and other striding parameters; footprints and trackways as indicators of speed and gait; humans as dinosaur analogs; measurement of fossilized dinosaur trackways and estimation of dinosaur running speed. 2. Life and Death in the Cretaceous: The Navesink Paleocommunity: Structure and feeding relationships in the nearshore marine community of the New York Bight. Field trip to Monmouth County, New Jersey to study the New York Bight community at Sandy Hook and to collect fossils from the upper Cretaceous Navesink Formation at Poricy Brook. Reconstruction of community structure and feeding associations of the Navesink paleocommunity using field trip fossils and literature resources. 3. Symposium III: Research team presentations and group discussion of Module III subjects
Required Reading: Because of the diversity in subject matter dealt with in this course, no single book is adequate as a text. Instead, readings relevant to classroom activities will be drawn from a variety of sources including texts, research articles and webpages. These sources are listed below, by module. Assigned reading materials will be held on reserve in the library. In addition, copies of particularly relevant materials will be distributed in class. Webpages can be examined with home or college computers.
Module I: Form, Function, and Adaptation
Boardman, R.S., A.H. Cheetham, & A.J. Rowell, eds. 1987. Fossil Invertebrates. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Palo Alto, CA.pg 321-326. Raup, D.M. & S.M. Stanley. 1971. Principles of Paleontology. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, CA pg. 156-172. Schmidt-Nielson, K. 1986. Scaling: Why Animal Size Is So Important. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY, pg. 1-20 Stearn, C.W., & R.L. Carroll. 1989. Paleontology: the Record of Life. John Wiley , New York, NY, pg. 333-335.
Module II: Evolutionary Paleontology
Dodd, J.R., & R.J., Stanton, Jr. 1981. Paleoecology, Concepts & Applications. Wiley-Interscience Publ. New York, NY. pg.245-240. Gould, S.J. 1989. Wonderful Life. W.W. Norton, New York, NY, pg 45-52. Levinton, J. 1988. Genetics, Paleontology, and Macroevolution. Cambridge Univ. Press, pg. 296-301, 416-421. Moore, R.C., ed. 1978. Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part L, Mollusca 4. Ammonoidea. Univ. Of Kansas Press. pg 1-489. Stearn, C.W., & R.L. Carroll. 1989. Paleontology: the Record of Life. John Wiley , New York, NY, pg. 107-114; 363-373. Vermeij, G.J. 1987. Evolution and Escalation. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, pg. 61-70.
Module III: Paleoecology
Alexander, R. McN. 1989. Dynamics of Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Giants. Columbia Univ. Press, New York, NY, pg. 1-15; 27-43. Boardman, R.S., A.H. Cheetham, & A.J. Rowell, eds. 1987. Fossil Invertebrates. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Palo Alto, CA.pg 21-23 Dodd, J.R., & R.J., Stanton, Jr. 1981. Paleoecology, Concepts & Applications. Wiley-Interscience Publ. New York, NY. pg 403-414. Lauginiger, E. 1986. An upper Cretaceous vertebrate assemblage from Big Brook, NJ. The Mosasaur, 3:53-61. Stearn, C.W., & R.L. Carroll. 1989. Paleontology: the Record of Life. John Wiley , New York, NY, pg. 390-393. Stoffer, P., & P. Messina. 1997. Geology and Geography of the New York Bight; http/www.everest.hunter.cuny.edu/bight/index.html
Course Assignments & Grading:
As noted above, the work for the course will consist of seven research exercises; the reading associated with each exercise; and one field trip. Each student will be required to submit a laboratory report for each of the seven research exercises. Students will be taught to write a laboratory report that models the kind of report done by a professional scientist.. Reports may be prepared as experimental work is done, and can be completed during class or at home. In addition, student research teams will present the results of their research to the class according to the schedule noted above. These will be oral reports illustrated with visual aids (e.g., posters, overhead transparencies, demonstrations) in which all members of a research team participate. At the conclusion of the semester, students will take a final examination in which they will be asked to discuss in detail the science behind the research projects in which they were involved during the semester. The objective is to assess the extent to which a student has understood the scientific principles, experimental methods, methods of analysis, and background information underlying the work they did during the semester. The final exam will be a synthesis of all their General Science 9.4 work in the sense that they will be asked to plan a research project for the purpose of gaining an understanding of a specific paleobiologic question - a question unrelated to the seven subjects they dealt with in class, but one which can be best addressed using the knowledge and experience they developed in paleobiology during the semester. The final will be a "take-home" exam in which students will be given the examination questions in the last week of the semester, and the exam written in the time slot scheduled by the registrar's office during finals week. This will afford students several days to reflect on, and plan, their responses. The idea is to give students an opportunity to assimilate, to the extent possible, intellectual approaches to the presentation of factual, scientific material.
Grading will reflect a student's performance in all of these assessment instruments. In addition, attendance and participation in laboratory activities will also be a component of the grading scheme. Grades will be determined as follows:
Lab reports: 63% (9% per lab report) Research Team Oral Report: 10% Class Participation: 7% Final Examination: 20%
Bibliography: Included here are general reference books which contain background information that students may find useful as general reference material to broaden their understanding of subjects dealt with in the seven research projects. These books will be held in reserve in the College Library during the semesters the course is taught.
Cowen, R. 1990. History of Life. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Cambridge, MA. 470 pg. Levins, H.L. 1991. The Earth Through Time. Saunders College Publ. New York, NY. 490 pg. Lutgens & Tarbuck. 1995. Essentials of Geology. Prentice Hall Publ. New York, NY 357 pg. Norman, D., 1995. Dinosaur !. Prentice Hall Macmillan Publ. New York, NY. 288 pg. Norman, D., 1994. Prehistoric Life. Prentice Hall Macmillan Publ., New York, NY. 246 pg. Stanley, S.M., 1989. Earth and Life Through Time. W.H. Freeman, New York, NY. 689 pg.
Rationale & Discussion: Several years ago the School of Education, in cooperation with the science departments, introduced a new program in science for elementary and early childhood education majors. Students take the four Core Science courses (total 8 credits), and then take three additional science courses specifically designed for Education majors: General Science 9; 10; and 20. Previously, an interim agreement had allowed students to substitute a number of science department courses for Gen. Sci. 9. In the original concept of this science education program, there were to be several versions of General Science 9 from which the student would choose one. These versions would all be interdisciplinary, and would allow students to study a given subject at a deeper level than that of the Core Sciences. The first of these courses, General Science 9.1 (Geology & Physics of the Earth), was approved in 1992, and has been offered several times in the years since then. General Science 9.2 (Light & Visual Perception) and General Science 9.3 (Biology & Chemistry of Life) were approved in 1997 and 1998, respectively, and have been offered for the first time within the last few semesters. The course proposed here is intended to be the fourth such course in the General Science sequence. It is the only General Science course to combine elements of geology, paleontology, zoology, and evolution. It thus will provide a unique compliment to the General Science courses already on the books, and, together with these courses, will give education majors a broad spectrum of subject matter from which to choose in satisfying the General Science component of their curriculum. After seven years of experience, it has become clear that teaching Gen. Sci. 9 in a primarily hands-on manner is highly desirable for students who will become elementary school teachers, because this approach models the kind of science teaching they should adopt in their classrooms. Gen. Sci. 9.4 is intended to be this kind of course. Furthermore, the School of Education and the science departments have found, in working together, that quantitative thinking should be an important part of the Gen. Sci. courses, and this is also part of the plan for Gen. Sci. 9.4.