Geology 105 - Paleontology
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Potential Term Paper Topics

You may choose to research one of the topics below, or you may choose your own topic. Any topic you choose, however, must be cleared with your instructor. Remember to read the paper assignment carefully.

If you want to pick your own topic:

Taphonomy - how good is the fossil database?

Origin of flight in birds

Origin of feathers

Evolution of complexity

Diversity over time - are there more kinds of organisms now than in previous geologic periods? what factors impact diversity?

Catastrophic explanations of the Permian extinction

Causes of the North American Pleistocene mammal extinction

T.rex - predator or scavenger? Slow or fast?

Dinosaur warmbloodedness

Causes or rates of the Cambrian radiation

Heterochrony (paedomorphosis) in fossil lineages

Desmostylus - is it hippo? sea cow? How and where did it live?

Origin of whales

Sorting out early Homo lineage - are many of the proposed species really just Homo erectus?

Small Pleistocene hominids from Indonesia

Using stable isotopes to investigate paleoecology

Quantitative biostratigraphy - limits to methods

Cladistic analysis in biostratigraphy

Sorting out brachiopod taxonomy

When mammals radiated: before or after dinosaur extinction?

Flight and feeding in pterosaurs

Mineral templates and the origin of life

Rates of human evolution: are they increasing?

Early humans and ecological disasters

New ideas about Chicxulub - the K-T impact site

Dinosaur growth and reproduction

What happened to Neanderthals? Murder, competition or love?

Differences between modern humans and Neanderthals

Evolution of bipedalism in humans

Evolution of domestic dogs

Strange and wonderful hadrosaur crests

Tiktaalik and the origin of tetrapods

Why were sauropods so enormous?

Sauorpod long necks and tails - flexible or stiffened?  And why?

Dinosaur guts

Giant crocodiles

Giant birds

World's oldest fossils - or are they?

Methane, climate change & mass extinction

Parallel evolution of eyes across major groups

Red Queen hypothesis - does coevolution happen so fast that everyone is running fast just to stay in the same place?