The course is designed for students in Geology degree and is directly connected to the basic Paleontology course (Paleontologia e Laboratorio) of the 1st year. The topics that are treated are: 1) Taphonomy, processes and applications to taphophacies analysis; 2) Paleoichnology with application to ichnofacies and ichnofabric analyses; 3) Classification of fossils, including biometric analysis; 4) Identification and analysis of ontogenetic and evolutionary trends; 5) Systematic of some groups not included in the program of the basic course on Palaeontology :Echinoderms, Briozoans and Graptolites. All the topics are treated in depth, to the state-of-the-art level. Several case studies from literature are analysed and discussed during the course. Biostratigraphy is not included in the program, because there is a specific course of this topic, activated in place of Complementi di Paleontologia every second year.
Expected learning outcomes
Understanding of the importance of the study of fossils for the analyses of sedimentary successions. The course provides all the information and background to the students, so that after the course they will be able to work with fossils.
The classification of fossils. Overview of the basic concepts of Systematic, Taxonomy, Classification and Nomenclature. Meaning of species in Palaeontology and problems for its definition. Stratophenetics. Statistical methods: pros and cons. Biometrical analyses: characters and variation. Most important statistical methods, with analysis of case studies from literature. Evolutionary taxonomy: principles, taxonomical hierarchy, and advantages and disadvantages of the methods. Numerical Taxonomy: birth, development and crisis; influence on the development of modern Palaeontology. Cladistics: principles and methods. Parataxonomy with examples: Paleoichnology and Conodonts. Nomenclature: the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Basic principles: Principle of Priority and Principle of the first reviser, Principles of the name-bearing taxon, Principle of coordination, Principle of Omonomy, P. of binomial nomenclature. Some examples of common problems. Synonymy and examples of synonymical lists. Application of Palaeontology. Application of Taphonomy, taphofacies and study of reworking (with examples). Application of Palaeoichnology, palaeoichnofacies and biofabric: detection and evaluation of hiatuses (with examples). Biostratigraphic correlations. Basic concepts and interpretation of time vs environmental control.
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisites are required, only a general knowledge of the basic concepts of Paleontology.
The course consists of 48 hours of lectures.
Printouts of the Powerpoint files used during the class. PDF and printouts of some scientific papers analysed and commented during class.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is oral. The assessment and the final mark are based on the achieved knowledge and understanding of the advenced concepts and methods in the most important fields of Paleontology. The course includes the analysis of some case studies, therefore the reasonig skills of the students will be assessed.