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Module GL4424: Micropalaeontology & Evolution 

  Module GL4424
Co-ordinator: Dr Patrick Wyse Jackson
Course Type: Optional
Assessment: Theory examination (50%); Continual Assessment (50%)
ECTS: 5 Credits
Prerequisites: None

Contact hours & timing:

Hilary Term
Weeks 21-26, six hours per week

Module Learning Aims

The aims are The aims are  (1) to introduce the subject of micropalaeontology, its scope, methods (including scanning electron microscopy) and potential; (2) to introduce the main groups of microfossils – calcareous nannoplankton, foraminifers, radiolaria, ostracodes and conodonts; (3) to demonstrate the practical use of these fossils in biostratigraphy, palaeoenvironmental analysis, oceanography and thermal maturation studies; (4) to provide an understanding of evolutionary processes.

Module Content

This module will focus on two areas. Firstly it will cover techniques for description and identification of the main microfossil groups both in theory and in practice.  Some practical examples of the uses in biostratigraphy, palaeoenvironmental analysis and oceanography will be covered, the evolution of life on our planet from earliest times, and the use of fossils as sources of palaeoenvironmental data.  In the second area topics covered in lectures include the Cambrian explosion, evolution and classification, the evolution of flight, and the biodiversity in the past, present and future. Some of the content of this module will be student-led through presentations.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • describe and illustrate microfossils using the Scanning Electron Microscope;
  • identify individual microfossils to the level of group and use appropriate literature to identify them to the level of genus and species;
  • apply micropalaeontology to the solution of geological problems;
  • describe the evolutionary steps displayed in the fossil record.