The course is designed to show the scientific, museologic and economic value of the most important fossil groups. The aims of the course are achieved by describing the frequency of fossils in the field, the difficulties on their search and extraction from the rock, and the technical approach to their preparation in laboratory. The course includes also three special sections: on vertebrates and invertebrates, and a last one in which some solutions of Museographical paleontology realized in the Milano Natural History Museum will be illustrated.
Ability to distinguish vertebrate and invertebrate fossils. Ability to understand the significance and importance of fossils. Ability to organize a laboratory for paleontologic preparation. Understanding of the organization and structure of a Museum.
Fossils in the history, science and society. The beginning of fossil collections by humans, and the steps to the understanding of their biological nature. The contribution of Paleontology to the reconstruction of the evolution of life on Earth. The scientific, didactics and outreach importance of fossils. True fossils, fake fossils and frauds based on fossils. Fossils from the rock: fossiliferous beds, fossiliferous successions and fossil localities. Richness and lateral continuation of fossiliferous beds. Examples of fossiliferous successions from the Mesozoic of Lombardy. Paleontologic excavations. Identification of the site with respect to the purpose of the paleontologic study. Definition of the stratigraphic interval to sample, of its lithology, bedding of cover. Planning of the field works in term of technical tools, staff and duration of the excavation. The preparation of fossils. Fossils from sediments and from hard rocks. Most common techniques for extracting fossils with respect to their chemical and mineralogical composition. Tools for mechanical and for chemical preparation. The classification of fossils. The species concept: living species, extinct and extant species. The modern approach to the classification of fossils in comparison to the approach used in the past centuries. The types of the species. Application of the principles of the ICZN for the solution of the most common problems in the classification of fossils. Identification of the most important invertebrate fossil groups (cnidarians, brachiopods, bivalves, cephalopods, echinoderms, and trilobites) based on laboratory activities. Basic anatomy, main evolutionary trends and principles of functional morphology in vertebrates. Excavation techniques in fossil vertebrates localities.