Geology 105 - Paleontology
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Geology 105 : Paleontology

Dr. Judi Kusnick

Spring 2016

Office: PH 1019
Office Hours: T 9-10am and 12-1pm; Th 9-10
. I am predictably in Placer Hall (either in my office or in the lab) Tuesday, Wednesday morning and Thursday. At other times I am often in meetings somewhere else on campus or off-campus. Call ahead to be sure I'm in. You are always welcome to call me at home (leave a message if I'm not there) if you can't find me at school.
Phone: Office: 278-4692
Home (before 10 pm): (530) 756-8404

Goals: My goals for you in this course are these: 1) that you understand fossils as ancient organisms, and understand the evolutionary and ecological principles that shaped ancient life; 2) that you understand fossils as geological tools for telling time and recognizing paleoenvironments; 3) that you understand fossils as clues to the geologic past and learn some ways to use those clues to solve geologic puzzles; 4) that you learn the characteristics of the major groups of fossil organisms; and 5) that you learn to read and write technical papers in geology.

Format: The two lecture periods each week will be devoted to the principles of paleontology. The lab will center on the characteristics of the organisms, as well as an extended exercise in biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Some of the lecture periods will be used for lecture; others will be used for cooperative group activities.

Textbook and reading: The required textbook for the course is Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record by Benton & Harper. Most of the reading for the course will be in this book. I will also require a few readings from other sources (see schedule). If these readings are not available on-line, I will keep copies of them in a binder in the Commons Room upstairs in Placer Hall. You must do the reading before coming to class. On the Course Schedule, each of the chapter numbers listed is a link to a Topic Guide. The Topic Guide includes directions for reading the chapter, any background information you need, some Key Questions that you should answer using the book and your class work (the Guides are color coded so you know what information to look for in the book), and expectations for Assessment. I will use these expectations to compose the quizzes (see below). You MUST answer the Key Questions and Assessment questions before coming to class. The completed Topic Guides are due at the beginning of class every Tuesday. I will only accept three late Topic Guides.

Web page: This course has a Web site linked to the Geology Dept. Web page at I will post all handouts for the course there. Click on the link for the schedule and you will find links to topic guides, labs and exam study guides. Some of the assignments for the course may require you to do some work over the Web. Many handouts for the course are available only on the Web.

You will do small assignments from time to time, often in class. Assignments will either be due at the end of class or at the following class meeting. Assignments will only be accepted up to one week late. You may rewrite three assignments for a higher grade (assignments turned in late count as rewrites - between the assignments and the Topic Guides you may turn in a total of six assignments late). You may rewrite any assignment only once, and you may not rewrite any assignments turned in late. Completion of Topic Guides will be included in your assignment grade. Some of the assignments will concentrate on reading and writing technical literature. These will help you greatly in successfully completing the required paper.

Exams: There will be two midterm exams over the semester. The exams consist of short answer questions (can be answered in a couple sentences to a paragraph) and essays. I will post a list of exam questions on line for each exam, and choose a subset of these questions for the test. There will also be a comprehensive final and two lab exams .

Labs:You must come to lab having read the chapter on the group to be studied that week. To help you prepare for lab, I will ask to see your Reading Guide at the beginning of lab.You may not participate in lab until your reading guide has been checked off. In each lab you will do a specific assignment, but it is not to be turned in. You will also prepare a set of notes on index cards from each lab. These index cards may be used on the lab exam and may be turned in for extra credit during the lab final. At the end of each lab you will take a self-test on the material covered in lab. You must report your score to me, but this score will not be figured into your grade for the course. It's just how we both know how well you understand the material. You may get an assignment covering material in the lab; these assignments will be graded. There will be two lab exams. If the class performance on the first lab exam is satisfactory, the second lab exam will not be comprehensive.

You will do a few projects that you will write up and turn in. There will be time in class to complete these projects. Together these projects constitute 15% of your grade.

Paper: You will write a 6-10 page paper on a particular facet of paleontology. The paper will be a review article covering a significant controversy in paleontology. You may choose a topic from a list I provide, or you may propose a topic of your own choosing. The paper will be submitted in four installments: topic proposal, otline and bibliography, first draft, final draft. You may choose to revise once more after receiving your grade on your final draft. A complete guide to writing the paper is available on the course Web site. IMPORTANT: IF ANY ONE PIECE OF THE PAPER COMES IN LATE, THE SCORE FOR THE ENTIRE PAPER DROPS BY ONE FULL LETTER GRADE. FAILURE TO HAND IN THE PAPER WILL RESULT IN A FAILING GRADE IN THE COURSE. A PLAGIARIZED PAPER WILL BE REPORTED TO STUDENT AFFAIRS AND MAY RESULT IN A GRADE OF F IN THE COURSE AND POSSIBLE EXPULSION.

: There are no makeups for missed quizzes. You may be excused from an quiz if 1) you have a serious reason for missing the quiz (examples of serious reasons: serious illness with a doctor's note, a court appearance, death in the family, jail); 2) you notify me on or before the day of the exam that you will miss it. I will give makeups for missed lab exams only if you have a serious reason for missing the exam (see rules above). If you miss class, you are responsible for finding out about any assignments.




Assignments & Projects


Lab Exams
Poster Presentation