- Code EMSC3020
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Research School of Earth Sciences
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Earth and Marine Science
- Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences, Evolution and Ecology
- Academic career UGRD
- AsPr Jochen Brocks
- Mode of delivery In Person
First Semester 2019
See Future Offerings
This course explores the origin of life on our planet, from the emergence of cells to the appearance of humans. You will gain an advanced understanding of our place in the universe as the descendants of an unbroken line of ancestors from the first microorganisms, the emergence of complex cells, the appearance of multicellular life and the evolution of animals over the past 600 million years, in the oceans and on land. You will also explore how we may find life on other planets in our solar system. The course will emphasize how the geology and chemistry of planet Earth was influenced by the evolution of new metabolisms and traits of life, and how biological evolution was steered by geological process. The focus will be an advanced understanding of major events such as the Great Oxygenation Event, the rise of algae, Snowball Earth events, the emergence of the Ediacara biota, the Cambrian explosion, major mass extinction events that saw the turnover of entire ecosystems, including the demise of dinosaurs, turnover of plankton in the oceans through time, and the emergence of new reef building structures. The course will provide an overview of the major groups of plant and animal fossils, including critical evaluation of numerous fossil specimens, and an understanding how fossils, microfossils and molecular fossils are used to reconstruct ancient environments and ecosystems.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the geological, chemical and biological processes that determined the co-evolution of life and environments on planet Earth;
- Interpret the evolutionary and ecological significance of the form and function of fossils of extinct organisms;
- Synthesize knowledge about evolutionary biological and geological processes to understand the changing diversity and increasing complexity of life through time;
- Perform independent research on a paleontological or geobiological subject.
Indicative AssessmentAssessment will be based on:
- Mid-term exam (LO 1-2) 30%
- Assessments of five practical exercises (LO 2-3) 20%
- Oral presentation (LO 1-4) 20%
- Final examination (LO 1-3) 30%
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WorkloadThe course includes 3 lecture hours per week and 2 hours for pracs that will require some preparation. There will be a written mid-semester test and a final exam. Each student has to give a well researched and well rehearsed oral presentation about a palaeontological subject and answer questions from the audience. The course demands a normal workload for a 6 unit course.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Assumed KnowledgeThis course is suitable for all students with a general science background.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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