Skip to content | Change text size

ESC2032 - The dynamic biosphere: changing fauna and flora through geological time

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader: Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich, Dr Jeffrey Stilwell


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)


Investigates evolutionary patterns of Gondwana fauna, for 3.8 billion years. Topics: origin of life, metazoan origins in late Precambrian, Cambrian 'explosion' of shelled organisms, rapid evolution and mass extinctions (acritarchs, dinosaurs), biologic effect extraterrestrial impacts, vulcanism, changing climate and geography (impact of developing aridity on biota, 'Snowball Earth' metazoan origins), origin of major animal groups (molluscs, marsupials). Emphasis on strengths/weaknesses of interpretive methods and how complex science can be presented to a wide audience. Optional Field Trip.


On completion of this unit students will be able to characterise the comparative anatomy of the major vertebrate groups, use vertebrates as geological time pieces, have an understanding about how the major animal groups evolved, and about how environments have changed through time, about major extinction events, and about diet and habitat preferences of extinct animals.


Essay (2000 words)+ Seminar: 30%
Examination (2 hour): 30%
Laboratory work: 40%

Contact hours

Two 1-hour lectures and one 3-hour practical per week


24 points of level one units