ESCI4104: Evolution and Paleobiology of Fossil Reptiles

3 Credits

Reptiles first appear in the fossil record about 315 million years ago as small lizard-like carnivores and diversified greatly into a wide range of ecological roles during the Mesozoic. This radiation includes multiple invasions of the aquatic realm by groups as diverse as turtles, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs, and also encompasses two of the three groups of vertebrates to evolve active flight, namely birds and pterosaurs. Dinosaurs, most famous among the reptilian clades, dominated terrestrial ecosystems for over 100 million years and evolved large body sizes unsurpassed by any other terrestrial group. This course will cover the fossil record, evolution and paleobiology of reptiles (including birds) from the Carboniferous to the Present. Using both literature and demonstrations on skeletons/casts, students will learn the basics of reptilian anatomy and biology, and how those are used to infer evolutionary relationships and ecology of the diverse extinct reptilian clades listed above. Methods for inferring phylogenetic relationships, measuring biodiversity in the fossil record, and reconstructing the physiology and life history strategies of extinct reptiles will also be covered. The relationship between major geological events, such as changing climate and continental drift, and the origination, diversification, and extinction of reptilian groups through more than 300 million years of in Earth history will be explored. Prerequisites: ESci 1001 or ESci 1002 or Biol 1001 or Biol 1002 or Biol 1009 or instructor consent.

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B+ Average (3.431)Most Common: A (30%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

23 students
  • 3.76


  • 3.99


  • 4.29


  • 4.00


  • 3.76



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