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Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Dinosaurs and the Evolution of Life on Earth

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION In the last few decades there has been much attention in the natural history of the Universe. This has focused particularly on how the Earth came into being and how just the right environment was produced for humans to evolve. The aim of this unit is to introduce students to issues of the evolution of life on Earth, starting from the beginning of the Earth.

The intention of this unit is to focus more specifically around the diversification of life up to the age of the dinosaurs. A description of the paleogeography, paleoclimate and diversification of life will be given, as well as the detailed evolution of the planet Earth. This will start from the beginning of life (Paleozoic) and continue on to the age of the Dinosaurs (Mesozoic). The unit will end with a brief description of life after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Explain how the Earth developed in the past 4.5 billion years;
- Describe where life began and the diversity of animals before and during the age of the dinosaurs;
- Discuss the concept of mass extinction as a result of natural causes including climate change;
- List the main stages of the evolution of life on Earth;
- List the main geological time zones and dominant life at the time;
- Explain why finding exoplanets is important and to what extent they are distributed over the Galaxy;
- Analyse the vulnerability and perseverance of life on Earth as well as the importance of environmental awareness in modern times.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Interpret ancestry between extinct and extant animals;
- Explain how the Dinosaurs evolved;
- Describe the evolution of the Earth based on the geological timescale;
- Explain the diversification of life before the beginning of humanity.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

Rafferty, J. P., The Paleozoic Era: Diversification of Plant and Animal Life, Brittanica Educational Publishing, 2011.
Rafferty, J. P., The Mesozoic Era: Age of Dinosaurs, Brittanica Educational Publishing, 2011.
Carpenter, Kenneth E., Dinosaur systematics : approaches and perspectives, Cambridge U.P., 1990.
Padian, Kevin, The beginning of the age of dinosaurs : faunal change across the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, Cambridge U.P., 1986.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S James Ciarlo (Co-ord.)
Sandro Lanfranco

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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