GEOLOGY 112

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY AT PARKERSBURG
GEOLOGY 397 – SPECIAL TOPICS: INTRODUCTION TO PALEONTOLOGY
SYLLABUS
FALL  SEMESTER 2000

NAME OF COURSE: SPECIAL TOPICS: INTRODUCTION TO PALEONTOLOGY

COURSE NO.: Geology 397             CREDIT: 3 Semester Hours

DEPARTMENT: Geology                 DIVISION: Natural Sciences and Mathematics

PROFESSOR:  Dr. Edward L. Crisp
OFFICE: 2307
PHONE:  424-8255
email: [email protected]
OFFICE HOURS:   TBA

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Prothero, Donald R.; 1998; BRINGING FOSSILS TO LIFE: AN INTRODUCTION TO PALEOBIOLOGY: WCB/McGraw-Hill Publishers; 457 p


Laboratory Manual to be announced later.
COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Geology 397-Special Topics: Introduction to Paleontology is an introductory course in paleontology.  Paleontology is the study of past life and the interactions of past living organisms with the physical world.  In this course we will trace the evolutionary path and patterns of life from the Precambrian to the present based on evidence from the fossil record.  The course will concentrate on invertebrate fossils (particularly in the laboratory), however, vertebrates and plants will also be covered in the course.  Additionally, the course will study the principles of fossil preservation and taphonomy, systematics and taxonomy of the major fossil groups, morphologic characteristics of the major fossil groups,  the biostratigraphic value of fossils, and the paleoecological, paleoenvironmental, and paleobiogeographical use of fossils in reconstructing ancient environments and geography of the Earth. The laboratory portion of the course will stress the morphological criteria necessary for fossil identification and the systematics and taxonomy of the major invertebrate fossil groups. (The course will consist of two 50 minute lectures per week and one 2 hour laboratory session per week) (Prerequisites: Geology 111, Geology 112, Biology 111, and consent of the instructor)
ATTENDANCE POLICY:

Attendance to all classes is highly recommended.  If you must miss a class, notify the instructor as soon as possible (preferably before you miss) at 424-8255  (if no answer, leave a message).  If you do miss a class it is your responsibility to cover the material, find out about class announcements, etc.  Material that is covered in lecture is not always readily obtained by just reading the text.  A record of attendance will be maintained and, because of the nature of the course, excessive absences may result in a lower grade.
ATTENDANCE IS REQUIRED FOR ALL TESTS!  Preparing make-up material for tests is very time consuming for the instructor.   Make-up will be allowed for valid excuses, such as severe illness, death in the family, or excused university sponsored events.  The student must make arrangements with the instructor before missing or immediately upon returning to class to arrange for a make-up exam, otherwise the grade for the missed exam will be recorded as a zero.  PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS POLICY LIGHTLY.

SAFETY RULES FOR THE LABORATORY:

A list of safety rules will be given to the student to follow during laboratory sessions.  In addition these rules will be posted in the laboratory.  Failure to adhere to these rules may result in injury to the student breaking the rules or other students in the laboratory.  Please follow these rules, they are meant for your safety.

All students in the class must receive laboratory safety training.  The instructor will use an announced laboratory time for a laboratory safety training session prior to any use of chemicals in the laboratory.  If for any reason you miss the laboratory safety training session, please contact the instructor as soon as possible for a make-up session on laboratory safety.  A student who misses the laboratory safety training session will not be allowed to continue to participate in laboratory sessions until he/she has received the laboratory safety training.  As a part of laboratory safety procedures, approved eye protective goggles are required for any laboratory procedures involving chemicals or heating procedures.  Students without approved eye protective goggles will not be allowed to participate in lab sessions involving chemicals or heating procedures.  The WVU-P bookstore sells the correct type of eye goggles for the laboratory.

TESTING and EVALUATION:  There will be three major one hour lecture exams (in addition to the final exam) during the semester.  The final exam will be partially comprehensive.  There will be a term paper required.  The term paper will be 6 to 10 pages and will be a review paper of some paleontological topic (topic assigned by instructor or of your choice with instructor’s approval) based on paleontological journal articles (more on this at the first class meeting).  The laboratory portion of the course will account for one third of the grade for the course.  There will be two major laboratory exams in addition to graded weekly laboratory exercises.  There will be a required field trip that may involve more than one day (will be on a weekend).  The field trip may substitute for one or more laboratory sessions.    Following is a breakdown of the basis for the final course grade:
BASIS FOR FINAL COURSE GRADE:

Three major exams during the semester (10% each, 100 Pts. each)…………….30%………..300 Points
Term Paper………………….………………………………………………………………….17%………..170 Points
Laboratory……………………………………………….………………………………….. 33%………..330 Points
Two laboratory exams (100 points each for 200 points)
Thirteen laboratory exercises (10 points each for 130 points)
Final Exam……………………………………………………………………………………..20%………..200 Points

Total…………………………………………………………………………….………………100%………1000 Points

GRADING SCALE:                                               PERCENTILE RANGE           COURSE GRADE

greater than 90%……………………………A
80 through 89%…………………………….B
70 through 79%…………………………….C
60 through 69%…………………………….D
less than 60%……………………………….F
COURSE OBJECTIVES

1.   To increase the ability of the student to think critically.
2.   To practice the scientific method of investigation.
3.   To appreciate and practice experimentation and observation and their importance in scientific investigations.
4.   To practice accurate scientific data collecting techniques and the importance of accurate data collection.
5.   To practice methodical study and work habits.
6.   To understand fossils as ancient organisms and understand the evolutionary and ecological principles which shaped ancient life.
7.   To understand fossils as geological tools for determining geologic time and recognizing paleoenvironments.
8.   To understand how fossils can be used to solve geologic problems.
9.   To learn the basic morphologic characteristics of the major groups of fossils.
10. To understand the systematics and taxonomy of the major groups of fossils.

SPECIAL PROJECTS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE COURSE

1.  Geologic field trips to study local paleontology.
2.  Field trips to museums or other points of paleontologic interest.
3.  Term paper.
NOTE:  THE INSTRUCTOR, DIVISION, OR UNIVERSITY MAY MODIFY ANY OF THE ABOVE IN ORDER TO BETTER SERVE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE COURSE, THE STUDENT, AND THE UNIVERSITY!