Review sheet for the final exam
Guidelines for your zoo species blog post
Here are
videos from Ken Dial’s lab and one of his papers
Description of
snake anatomy/physiology
Several figures of snake anatomy (
1, 2, 3)
Check out
Stephan Deban’s research into herp feeding
Watch videos on our
new class YouTube channel
Sign-up for
blog duty, and read the guidelines

Reading assignments
For Fri 12/3 - Human evolution
Read this article on pacifism in baboons
this article on a new recent hominid fossil
and listen to
this podcast on human and fellow primate behavior

For Wed 12/1 - Bat day/primate evolution
Read the Sargis 2002 paper on Carpolestes and take notes on the following questions:

  1. What synapomorphies are found in primates?
  2. What are some of the hypotheses for how the modern primate lifestyle and body plan evolved?
  3. How does the Carpolestes fossil help test these different hypotheses?

Look over these articles and take notes on the big take-home messages:

For Fri 11/19
Review the timeline on dinosaur evolution and early Poland footprints

For Wed 11/17
Read this blog post on recent dinosaur research and look over the abstracts of the linked papers.
Listen to
this podcast on T. rex olfaction and this one on dinosaur endothermy.

For Fri 11/5
Read this paper by Whitfield and Pierce (2005) and take notes on the following questions. You are not handing in typed responses, but you must be ready to discuss this paper on Friday.

For Mon 11/1
Listen to this podcast interview with Kate Jackson (the herpetologist)
this chapter from her book

For Fri 10/29
Look over the taxa in the Lepidosaur diversity handout

For Mon 10/25
Check out this great turtle site
Be ready to discuss
this podcast on tortoise conservation
Check out this
vertebrate circulation simulator
  • Be ready to discuss how blood flow differs between fishes, lungfishes, frogs and turtles (both when at surface and when diving)
Come prepared with any questions you have for the exam
  • Work on the timeline for the evolution of the vertebrate groups we have discussed
  • Review your readings on tetrapod evolution

For Fri 10/22
No Class

For Wed 10/20
this survey to choose the date for our next exam
Read the following pages on amniotes and answer the questions below in your notes:
UC Berkeley introduction to the amniotes - a quick primer
Tree of Life amniote page
  • What types of animals are in the following taxa?: Synapsida, Sauropsida, Diapsida, Testudines, Lepidosauria, Archosauria
  • How certain is the phylogeny for amniotes? What taxon is problematic?
Tree of Life Temporal Fenestration page
  • What is a possible functional benefit of temporal fenestration (holes in the skull)?
  • What is the difference between an anapsid, synapsid and diapsid skull?

For Fri 10/15
Check out this page on Tungara frog calls and listen to the audio
- What are the costs and benefits of the two tungara frog calls?
Start listening to
Ohio frog calls

For Wed 10/13
Read this short summary of a paper by Karen Warkentin on red-eyed tree frogs
and check out
this video from her research webpage

For Fri 10/8
Welcome to Frog Day!
this webpage on Blanchard’s cricket frog and the three Lehtinen papers to answer the following questions and submit them through the course Angel page by 1 am Friday morning. Remember to use your own words - do not quote or paraphrase from the papers.
  1. How would you recognize this frog if you saw or heard one? In what part of the State does it occur?
  2. Is the decline in Blanchard cricket frog populations attributable to one or multiple possible stresses? How did the Lehtinen and Skinner 2006 paper test the hypothesis that habitat acidification is causing declines in the population?
  3. According to this paper, how is the geographical range of the species changing in Ohio? Was habitat acidification found to be causing this change in geographical range?
  4. What are some possible complications with the paper’s conclusion regarding the possible impact of habitat acidification?
  5. According to Steiner and Lehtinen 2008, are Blanchard cricket frogs infected with the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis? How was the presence of this fungus tested? Is the fungus having an effect on the frogs?
  6. According to the Carfagno et al.’s unpublished manuscript, what is an inducible defense?
  7. What did the authors predict would happen to Acris tadpoles when exposed to dragonfly predators? What did they find?
  8. What did the authors predict would happen to Acris tadpoles exposed to fish predators? What did they find?

For Wed 10/6
Watch this video on another fossil tetrapod and be ready to discuss how these findings may alter the picture of tetrapod evolution. Do you recognize the name of the narrator?

For Mon 10/4
Pages 30-56 of Carl Zimmer’s
At the Waters Edge
Chapter 1 of
Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish
Ahlberg and Clack 2006, A firm step from water to land
And you might want to check out the
Tiktaalik website
Be sure to watch
Neil Shubin on the Colbert Report
Use these readings to develop a background on early tetrapod evolution. To prepare for class discussion take notes on the questions below for each of these taxa:
Icthyostega, Acanthostega, Tiktaalik and Panderichthys:
  1. Where were fossils for each of these found?
  2. Who found them, and when?
  3. What fish and/or tetrapod features are found in each of these taxa?
  4. What do these fossils tell us about tetrapod evolution?

For Mon 9/27
Read pages 86-107 of Carl Zimmer’s At the Waters Edge
Bring your questions about the exam
Add your fish measurement data

For Fri 9/24
Knouft and Page 2004 - handed out in class. Submit answers to the following questions using the course Angel Page.
  1. It makes sense that male fishes would guard a nest to protect their eggs. But this is not always the case. What other benefit could the male derive from hanging out in a nest of eggs?
  2. How would knowing the phylogeny of this group of darters help us understand the evolution of nest guarding?
  3. What untested hypothesis about male nest guarding in this group of darters is addressed by this study?
  4. What were found to be important predators of darter eggs?
  5. What is the take-home message of figure 1 - in two sentences or less?
  6. What important control was left out of this study?
  7. Could we collect darters this week on our field trip and set up a similar experiment in class? Why or why not (check out the Materials and Methods section for a hint)?

For Wed 9/22
Listen to another NPR story on large, extinct filter feeding fishes
this summary of a paper on moray eel feeding (accessible from on-campus)
Be ready to discuss this paper

For Mon 9/20
Listen to this NPR story on the fate of basking sharks
Use the following section from Biology of Sharks and Their Relatives (starting page 171) to answer the following thought questions and bring your notes to class:
  1. What types of strategies do elasmobranchs use to get food in their mouths?
  2. Jaw suspension has changed significantly during chondrichthyan evolution. What is the difference between autodiastyly, amphistyly and hyostyly? What is the adaptive benefit of hyostyly? Be sure that you understand the cartilaginous elements of the mandibular and hyoid arch in elasmobranchs (look over your slide handouts and your last lab handout).
Use Joseph Nelson’s Fishes of the World (handed out in class) and the following page from the Tree of Life to answer the following thought questions and bring your notes to class:
  1. Draw a phylogenetic tree to show the relationship between the following taxa: Polypteriformes, Acipenseriformes, Sarcopterygii, Lepisosteiformes, Teleosts, Amiiformes (Bowfin), Chondrichthyes
  2. Which of the taxa above are actinopterygians?
  3. What is a common name for each of these actinopterygian taxa?
  4. What taxon listed in question one contains the most species?

For Fri 9/10
Read “Getting Ahead” from Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish

For Mon 9/6
Read Briggs 2010 - Decay distorts ancestry (pdf format)
Thought questions:
1. Why has it been difficult to find a fossil record for early chordate and craniate/vertebrate evolution?
2. How does the decay of specimens during the fossilization process complicate the placement of these taxa on phylogenetic trees?
3. How does this decay affect our understanding of chordate/craniate evolution?

For Fri 9/3
Prepare for thought questions on Stolfi et al. 2010 on heart development
Note that the molecules written in italics are genes.
1. According to the last paragraph of the paper, an
ortholog to the vertebrate gene Nkx2.5 is expressed in the pharynx of a nematode worm. Based on the first page of this paper, what role does Nkx2.5 play in vertebrate development? What does this gene’s expression in the nematode pharynx say about the evolutionary relationship between the heart and pharyngeal muscles?
2. Explain the meaning of the last sentence in this paper. What does it mean that circulatory, respiratory and feeding functions might have coevolved in the vertebrates?
3. The first paragraph of the paper defines the FHF and SHF, and then says that the latter has been found in multiple vertebrates, but not in the invertebrates. Why does this make it difficult to study SHF evolution?
4. What two types of structures develop from the B7.5 cells of the tunicate
Ciona intestinalis?
5. The paper lists a number of genes involved in heart development in
Ciona. Which of these genes is expressed first? Name two genes that are expressed later in the pathway leading to heart development.
6. In what germ layer is all of this development taking place?

For Mon 8/30

Kardong pages 53-77 (skim for relevant information)
Thought questions
1. Is the sessile adult form of ascidians (sea squirts) an example of a plesiomorphy or apomorphy? Why?
2. Note the major features of the following groups (do not focus on the detail):
a) Hemichordates (enteropneusta and pterobranchs)
b) Uruchordata (ascidians, larvaceans, thaliaceans)
c) Cephalochordata
3. Be prepared to discuss the basic arguments for and problems with the following hypotheses for chordate evolution:
a) Evolution of cephalochordates from arthropods (Saint-Hillaire)
b) Evolution of cephalochordates from echinoderms (Garstang)
c) The hypothesis presented in figure 2.31
4. What important role do larval stages play in the evolution of vertebrates?

For Fri 8/27
Kardong pages 47-53
Thought questions on Origin of Chordates - take notes on your answers
1. What synapomorphies are shared by chordates?
What characteristics unite hemichordates and echinoderms

For Thur 8/26

Posner and Lavenberg 1999 describing a new species of prickleback fish (will be handed out in class)
- try to identify the characters that could be used to produce a phylogeny
Read the Berkeley site on Using Trees
Whales ankles
Cichlid stripes

For Wed 8/25
Review the basics on
reading a phylogeny
and more information on
reading and constructing trees

Science literature resources
ISI citation database
Ohio Link Electronic Journal Center
BioMed Central
Public Library of Science
Biological Bulletin - articles older than 6 months are free access
Journal of Experimental Biology - articles older than 6 months are free access
Nature - full free access on campus
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Blogs and Podcasts
Quirks and quarks
Science Friday