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School of Environment, Education and Development

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BSc Geography and Geology
Benefit from a wide range of optional topics and practical trips on this combined degree.

BSc Geography and Geology / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Palaeontology- Ecosystems of the Past

Unit code EART30411
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Pre/co-requisites

NONE

Aims

Most major advances in understanding the history of life on Earth in recent years have been through the study of exceptionally well-preserved biotas (Fossil Lagerstatten). This course introduces students to some of the most important and best known sites around the globe, and by following these in chronological order from the Precambrian up to the Quaternary enables an appreciation of the evolution over time of fossil ecosystems.



The course unit aims to follow the first metazoans of the Ediacaran ’garden’, through the ’weird wonders’ of the Burgess Shale, through the giant coal-forests of the Carboniferous, to Archaeopteryx, the world’s first bird, and on to the feathered dinosaurs, recently discovered in China.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will:

- have an appreciation of the best-known and most important worldwide sites of exceptional fossil preservation (Fossil Lagerstatten).

- understand how ecosystems have evolved through time.

- be able to reconstruct ancient environments from a knowledge of their biotas.

Syllabus


The course is taught over 5 weeks, with 2 one-hour lectures each week. In the remaining weeks of the course students complete an extended essay on a topic of their choice relating to the course.



Week 2: Ediacara and the Burgess Shale

Week 3: Hunsruck Slate and the Rhynie Chert

Week 4: Holzmaden Shale and the Solnhofen Limestone

Week 5: The Santana and Crato formations of Brazil

Week 6: Break

Week 7: Concentration lagerstatten - the Morrison Formation and Rancho La Brea

Assessment methods

Assessment and feedback methods

 The module is assessed as follows:

1)  Extended essay of 3,000 words on a topic of your choice related to a Fossil Lagerstatte in the British Isles, written in the format of a chapter in Selden & Nudds 2012 (course textbook).  Worth 40%.  Feedback is in the form of written notes on your essay and discussion with the unit co-ordinator if required.

2)  Exam in January.  Two questions out of a choice of five.  Worth 60%.  Detailed feedback is given verbally at the Exam Script viewing following the release of marks in early March.  Also a general feedback document will be posted on this Blackboard site.

Feedback methods

Assessment and feedback methods

 The module is assessed as follows:

1)  Extended essay of 3,000 words on a topic of your choice related to a Fossil Lagerstatte in the British Isles, written in the format of a chapter in Selden & Nudds 2012 (course textbook).  Worth 40%.  Feedback is in the form of written notes on your essay and discussion with the unit co-ordinator if required.

2)  Exam in January.  Two questions out of a choice of five.  Worth 60%.  Detailed feedback is given verbally at the Exam Script viewing following the release of marks in early March.  Also a general feedback document will be posted on this Blackboard site.

Recommended reading

Nudds, J.R. and Selden, P.A. 2008. Fossuil Ecosystems of North America. Manson Publishing. 288pp.

Selden, P.A. and Nudds, J.R. 2012. Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems. Second edition. Manson Publishing. 288pp.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 90

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
John Nudds Unit coordinator

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