Natural History of Dinosaurs

Syllabus

(BIO/ESS 065)

Winter/Spring 2016

Lecture time: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 11:30 am – 12:20 pm (50 min)

Lecture location: Classroom Office Building (COB) 114

Exam Date/Location: Monday May 9, 2016 from 3-6pm in CLSSRM 110

Instructor: Professor Justin D. Yeakel (jdyeakel@gmail.com)

Science and Engineering Bldg., Rm. 288

Office hours: MW 2-4 (SE1 288) or by appt.

Discussion section time and location:

Discussion Section times: Section 1 M 1:30-2:20 (50 min)

Section 2 M 2:30-3:20 (50 min)

Location: CLSSRM 282

Teaching Assistants: Paola Saldierna Guzman

Bobby Nakamoto

Office hours: Justin: 2-4 MW (or by appt.); SE1 288

Paola: 12:25-1:25 W; SE1 398

Bobby: 10-11 WF; Alcove near SE1 281

Become familiar with Earth history and the history of life through the lens of the origin and dominance of Dinosauria during the Mesozoic Era (252-66 million years ago). This will include a detailed understanding of the relationships between dinosaur taxa, their known ecological niches, and the clues by which paleontologists reconstruct these animals and their environment.

1. This course is structured as follows: 3 50-minute lecture session with me and one 50 minute discussion/practical section with the TA per week.

2. Discussion sections will provide students an opportunity to discuss in more detail concepts introduced in class, practical sessions on graphing, reading scientific papers, data collection, and review for exams. Your participation in discussion section is required and is part of your grade (see Grading below).

Students are expected to attend all lectures; and will sign in for attendance. It has been shown that a student’s performance in a course is closely coupled to their attendance. Attendance and participation in the discussion section is required and will be a component of the student’s course grade (see Discussion syllabus for details).

Students are required to have a bound notebook (not an iPad or other electronic device) for taking notes during lectures.

Required Textbook: Fastovsky & Weishampel. Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History, 2nd edition.

Selections from: Brusatte, S. Dinosaur Paleobiology. (provided)

Course Website: http://jdyeakel.github.io/teaching/dinos/

Information, lectures, notes, and important dates/alerts related to the course will be posted here.

LEARNING WILL BE ASSESSED IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER:

Assignments (e.g., homework, natural history report) should be handed in on time.

Late assignments will lose a letter grade (10%) each day past the due date.

Homework: Homework will be assigned by the Teaching Assistant. The assignments will include problem sets, reading, and writing and will be directly related to material presented in class, for which students may expect to see on an exam. Some assignments will be based on readings from the primary literature.

Natural History Report: Each student will choose a topic of interest concerning the natural history of dinosaurs and write a 1/2 page abstract of their chosen topic. This abstract will serve as one of the above homework assignments and requires approval from the instructor. Pending approval of this summary statement, each student will then write a 6-page research report (no more, no less) on their chosen topic.

Quizzes: 4 quizzes will be given periodically during the lecture period. They will be announced during class.

Exams: There will be three “midterm” exams during the semester and a final. If you are sick during an exam, please bring a note from your doctor verifying your illness. Missed exams based on an excused medical illness will be taken as soon as possible. There will be no early exams given.

Letter Grading Scale: A: (90-100%); B: (75-90%); C: (65-75%), D: (50-60%), F: (<50%)

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: The University of California Merced is committed to ensuring equal academic opportunities and inclusion for students with disabilities based on the principles of independent living, accessible universal design and diversity. I am available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations required for student with disabilities. Requests for academic accommodations are to be made during the first 3 weeks of the semester, except for unusual circumstances. Students are encouraged to register with Disability Services Center to verify their eligibility for appropriate accommodations. The instructor will make every effort to accommodate all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments, or required attendance. Please speak with the instructor during the 1st week of class regarding any potential academic.

Tentative Weekly Schedule: Please note that the Instructor reserves the right to change the schedule. You will be advised in advance of any changes via email or the UC web system.

Week

Date

Topic

Description

Readings

Assessments

1

1/20

Introduction to paleontology I

Intro, timescales & fossils

Fastovsky Chpt 1

1/22

Introduction to paleontology II

Sedimentology & Taphonomy

S1

None - Organizational

2

1/25

Evolution and classification I

Introduction to evolution and natural selection

Fastovsky Chpt 2,3

1/27

Evolution and classification II

More on natural selection and an introduction to classification

1/29

Early life history

Overview of the origin of life leading up to tetrapods

S2

Cladistics

HW1: Cladogram worksheet

3

2/1

Tetrapods

Life in the Permian

Fastovsky Chpt 4

2/3

An introduction to Dinosauria

Basal dinosaurs

2/5

Thyreophorans I

Stegosauria

S3

Anatomy

HW2: Anatomy worksheet

Homework 1 due

4

2/8

Thyreophorans II

Ankylosauria

Fastovsky Part 2 & Chpt 5

2/10

Prepare for Exam I

2/12

Exam I

Good Luck!

S4

Review

Homework 2 due

5

2/15

HOLIDAY - NO CLASS

2/17

Pachycephalosaurs

Basal traits and conundrums

Fastovsky Chpt 6

2/19

Pachycephalosaurs

Intraspecies competition then and now

S5

Marginocephalians

HW3: A scientific paper!

6

2/22

Ceratopsians

Basal traits and relatedness

2/24

Ceratopsians

After the frill is gone: diversity and movement over space

2/26

Ornithopoda I

Functional morphology and complex dentition

Fastovsky Chpt 7

S6

Natural History Report

HW4: Writing your Abstract

Homework 3 due

7

2/29

Ornithopoda II

Dinosaur behavioral ecology

3/2

Sauropods I

Carnivorous ancestors to gentle giants

Fastovsky Part 3 & Chpt 8

3/4

Sauropods II

Troubles: dealing with gigantism and the sauropod hiatus

S7

Sauropods

No homework… study!

Homework 4 due (abstracts)

8

3/7

Sauropods III

3/9

Review for Exam II

3/11

Exam II

S8

Review for Exam II (midterm)

9

3/14

Dino physiology & ecology I.

Reproduction and growth

Brusatte Chpt 8

3/16

Dino physiology & ecology II.

Diet and food webs

3/18

Dino physiology & ecology III.

Some like it hot: endothermy vs. ectothermy

S9

Physiology and ecology

HW5: TBA

SPRING BREAK

10

3/28

Theropods

Basal theropods

Fastovsky Chpt 9

3/30

Theropods

The strange: Spinosaurus, Oviraptor, and Therozinosaurs

4/1

Theropods

Derived theropods: brawn and brains

S10

Theropods

HW6: TBA

Homework 5 due

11

4/4

Origin of birds I

From theropods to Avialae

Fastovsky Chpt 10

4/6

Origin of birds II

Feathers and flight

4/8

Prepare for Exam III

S11

Review for Exam III

No homework: Write papers!

Homework 6 due

12

4/11

Exam III

4/13

Mesozoic World I

Climate and environment during the Mesozoic

Fastovsky Chpt 15, Brusatte Chpt 9

4/15

The Mesozoic World II

Diversity dynamics in the Mesozoic

S12

Climate Change

No homework: Write papers!

13

4/18

The Mesozoic World III

Mammals: masters of dentition

TBA

4/20

Crocodylomorphs

From croco-dogs to croco-ducks

4/22

Flying reptiles

Pterosaur diversity and morphology

S13

Air and Ocenas

Natural History paper due

14

4/25

Swimming reptiles

Reptiles, fish, and modern ocean specialists: a comparison

TBA

4/27

Dinosaurs in California

Planning your next road trip

4/29

Macroevolution and Extinction I

Dinosaur diversity: putting it all together

S14

To Be Announced

15

5/2

Macroevolution and Extinction II

The K-Pg extinction event

TBA

5/4

Macroevolution and Extinction III

The history of mass extinction events: putting it in perspective

5/6

Review for Final

S15

Review for Final

5/9

FINAL EXAM

Monday, 3-6pm CLSSRM 110

May the Force be with you <(-_-)>