Evolution of Life - Palaeontology

School  Natural Sciences
Academic Unit
 Geology Department
Level of Studies
Course Code
Εξάμηνο σπουδών  3ο
Course Title
 Evolution of Life - Palaeontology
Independent Teaching Activities
 Lectures and laboratory work
Weekly Teaching Hours
 2 (lect.), 2 (lab.)
Credits  5
Course Type
 Basic and Skills Development 
Prerequisite Courses
 Typically, there are not prerequisite courses
Language of Instruction & Examinations
Is the Course offered to Erasmus Students
 Υes, teaching may be however offered in English in case foreign students attend the course.
Course Web-Page (URL)  https://eclass.upatras.gr/courses/GEO326/ (in Greek)
Learning Outcomes

This module is a basic introduction in the field of Palaeontology. Students become acquainted with fossils, which consist the evidence of evolution, and their use in geological research. Also, during this module information concerning the main groups of organisms that are commonly found as fossils are provided.

Since the first moment that life appeared on earth 4 billion years ago, life on earth is under constant evolution. New species appear, while others disappear. Fossils are the unquestionable testimony of this evolution through the geological ages, thus due to their continuous change they allow us to record and understand the age of the rocks that they were found in, as well as the prevailing palaeoenvironmental conditions when they were still alive, or when they died and were deposited in the sediments.

 Upon successful completion of this course the students will be able to:

  1. Identify fossils.
  2. Understand, implement and discuss the basics of Palaeontology, what fossil and fossilisation is, how the fossilisation and preservation processes work and finally what taphonomy is.
  3. Understand, implement and discuss information on the origin, development and evolution of life, what mass extinctions are, when they occur and what their impact is on the evolution of life.
  4. Learn about the main groups of organisms that first appeared and prevailed during the Phanerozoic eon.
  5. Understand that the earth is a changing world and these changes have a direct impact on the evolution and making of life on earth.
  6. Become competent in identifying some of the most important and common groups of organisms that can be found as fossils.
  7. Correlate organisms with certain environments which could be used to define the respective depositional environments.
  8. Use these methods in order to contribute in the stratigraphic research and the understanding of the palaeoenvironment when stratigraphic methods such as biostratigraphy and chronostratigraphy are used.  
General Competences

Generally, by the end of this course the student will, furthermore, have developed the following general abilities:

  1. Search, analyse and synthesize data and information, using the necessary technologies.
  2. Working in a multidisciplinary environment
  3. Working in an international environment.
  4. Independent work.
  5. Group work.
  6. Generating new research ideas.
  7. Respecting the environment.
  8. Criticism and self-criticism.
  9. Promoting free and creative thinking.
  10. Respecting diversity and multiculturalism.
  1. Fossils – Fossilisation – Categories of fossils – Ways of fossilisation
  2. Species – Systematics – Phylogenesis – Determination of of species – Nomenclature.
  3. Palaeoecology – Taphonomy.
  4. What life is – Origin and evolution of life on earth – Mass extinctions.
  5. Protists – Metazoans - Invertebrates - Chordates.
  6. Bivalves, gastropods, cephalopods, brachiopods, echinoderms, trilobites, corals
  7. Vertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, hominids.
  8. Palaeobotany
Delivery  Lectures and laboratory practice face to face. Observation and study of real fossils (hand specimens) during laboratory practice
Use of Information & Communication Technology
 Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) (powerpoint) in teaching. Supporting teaching and communication through e-class. The lectures content of the course for each chapter are uploaded on the e-class platform, in the form of a series of ppt files, from where the students can freely download them. 
Teaching Methods
Activity Semester workload
 Lectures (2 conduct hours per week x 13 weeks)  2X13 = 26
 Laboratory work (2 conduct hours per week x 13 weeks)  2X13 = 26
 Hours for the preparation of laboratory work reports (3h per week x 13 weeks) 3Χ13= 39 
 Hours for private study of the student (3h per week x 13 weeks)  39
 Total number of hours for the Course 130 hours 
 Student Performance Evaluation

Ι) Oral final examination. The mark consists 50% of the final grade.

 The examination will include:

  • Short answered questions.
  • Short essays of combined approach.

ΙΙ. Written reports following the completion of each laboratory practical. The mean mark of the reports consists the other 50% of the final grade.

Minimum passing grade:  5.

Final Course Grade (FCG)

FCG = ( Oral exam + practical reports ) / 2

The language of assessment is in Greek. If foreign students attend the course, their assessment in English.
Attached Bibliography
  1. Prothero, R.D., 1998, Bringing fossils to life: An introduction to palaeobiology, WCB/McGraw-Hill
  2. Clarkson, E., 1998, Invertebrate Palaeontology and evolution, Wiley-Blackwell
  3. Armstrong, H.A., Brasier, M.D., 2005, Microfossils, Blackwell.
  4. Benton M.J., 2005, Vertebrate Paleontology, Blackwell Science Ltd
  5. Benton M. J., Harper D., A.T., 2009, Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record , Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
  6. Levin, H.,2013, The Earth through time, Wiley
  7. Notes of lecturers in English.