Vertebrate zoology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
To provide a deep knowledge of the general and systematic aspects of Vertebrates, describing the evolutionary changes of their architecture.
Expected learning outcomes
Competence in recognizing and describing Vertebrates and in analyzing their relationship with the environment
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
During the COVID-19 emergency, lectures will be held online. If possible, practicals will be performed at the University and / or in the fieldSee the Ariel webpage for additional details.
Course syllabus
The use of molecular phylogenetics for the study of vertebrate evolution. The cordates. Evolution of basal vertebrates. Mixiniformes and Petromizontiformes.
Evolution of Gnatostomata.
Evolution of Chondrichthyes. Phylogeny and morphology of sharks and rays.
Bony fishes. Swimming dynamics in fishes. Breeding strategies of fishes. Phylogeny and diversity of Actinopterygii. The Sarcopterygii and the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates
Amphibians: morphology, locomotion, breeding strategies. Complexity of systematics of extant amphibians. Amphibians of the Italian fauna.
Reptiles. Temperature-dependent sex determination. Phylogeny of extant reptiles, and diversity of the Italian fauna.
Comparison between endothermic and ectothermic vertebrates.
Birds: morphology and the bio-mechanics of flight. The complexity of evolution and phylogeny of birds.
Mammals: morphology and evolution. The evolution of dentition in mammals. Breeding strategies of mammals. Phylogeny, diversity and biogeography of mammals.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of general zoology and of systematics. Fundamentals of anatomy, ecology and genetics
Teaching methods
Teaching will mostly consist of oral lectures. Futhermore, some lectures will consist in the observation of animals in museum collections. We will also perform practical activities, with the observation and manipulation of individuals in their natural environments (field activities)
Teaching Resources
Pough, F. H., C. M. Janis, and J. B. Heiser. 2013. Vertebrate life. Pearson, Boston.
All the slides are available at the Ariel website
Assessment methods and Criteria
The evaluation will consist of a oral examination, covering the different topics and including main issues of taxonomy, vertebrate evolution and ecology (maximum note: 30/30)
The evaluation will be performed on: knowledge, comprehension, quality of language, ability of discussing the complexity of vertebrate biology
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 6
Practicals with elements of theory: 12 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Educational website(s)
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