Invertebrate Paleobiology

Course Details

Course Number
GEOS 3524
Section Number
GEOS 3524
Fall 2016
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

Lecture: MWF, 9am – 9:50pm, BO 125


Dr. Jesse Carlucci (view Profile)


Bringing Fossils to Life
Prothero, 3rd edition

Course Objectives

Labs:  Deal with the “Fundamentals of Invertebrate Paleontology” in that they cover the classification, morphology and ecology of the major invertebrate fossil groups: sponges; corals; molluscs; arthropods; brachiopods; echinoderms, bryozoans and graptolites. Modes of fossil preservation, paleoecology, sampling, and methods of biological classification will also be covered.


Lectures: Deal with the theoretical framework of paleontology. They will examine the various principles used to interpret fossils as living things, rather than just pieces of rock. They will also focus on the broader ecological and evolutionary significance of fossils.


Course Expectations

Quizzes 15%

Lecture Mid-term 15%

Lecture Final 20%

Poster Project 15%

Labs 30%

In Class Exercises 5%

Grading Standards

A = 100-90% | B = 89-80% | C = 79-70% | D = 69-60% | F = 59-0%

Submission Format Policy

Poster Project Format (DUE Dec 5)

The poster should have an abstract, introduction and discussion sections. All sources of information must be cited in the body of the text and listed in a reference list somewhere on the poster. Citation consists of the author's name plus the publication date. e.g. Jones (2001) or (Jones, 2001). You should use several references in writing the essay (at least half-a-dozen) and most of these should be from scientific journals.


You are encouraged to use the Midwestern Library on-line resources to research your poster. A poster that makes extensive use of non-approved web sites as primary sources is not acceptable.


Approved websites: .edu or .gov or any national museum or research institution website.


The following journals are good sources and many of them can be accessed on-line:


Semipopular journals: Scientific American; American Scientist.


Research journals: Paleobiology; Journal of Paleontology, Lethaia; Science; Nature; Palaeoecology, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology; Historical Biology; Palaios.


Illustrations should be included where appropriate and may be photocopied or scanned directly from a scientific journal or text book. However, the source of the information should be indicated in the figure caption (e.g. from Jones, 2001). You may also use images from the web, but include the site information.


Format. The poster can be in any format that you wish, but it will need to be constructed in Power Point (available in Bolin) or with illustration software (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw etc.). Grading is based on: content (10 pts), style and organization (8 pts) and references/citation (7 pts).


Poster topics. The poster can be on any topic under the umbrella of paleobiology. In order to assist you in choosing a subject, a list of potential topics is included below. However, you are free to come up with your own topic if none of these are appealing. It is a good idea to clear your poster topic with me prior to writing.


1. Mass extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

2. Mass extinctions at the end of the Ordovician Period.

3. Mass extinctions at the end of the Devonian Period.

4. Mass extinctions at the end of the Permian Period.

5. Ecology and physiology of a particular animal group.

6. Fossil record of life in the Precambrian.

7. Composition and significance of the Ediacaran fauna.

8. Geological history of reef-building organisms.

9. Composition and significance of the Cambrian Burgess Shale and/or Chengjiang faunas.

10. Changes in the composition of marine communities during the Phanerozoic Era.

11. Trace fossils as environmental indicators.

12. The “Cambrian Explosion” of life in the oceans.

13. Taphonomy of invertebrate fossil assemblages.

14. Extinction and environmental change in the modern world.

15. Discussion of some aspect of paleontology methodology.

16. Predation in the fossil record.

17.) Historical biogeography of one fossil group.

18.) Diversity in the fossil record.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

For missed exams, the late penalty is 5% per working day (25% off maximum). No assignments will be accepted after Wednesday of finals week.  Lab assignments are due the week they are assigned.  They will be accepted an additional week late for a 10% penalty.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

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As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

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