Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
Fall 2005
BIOS 314/514
lecture: 11:00-12:00  Monday and Wednesday
lab: 9:00-11:50 or 1:00-4:00 Thurs

Instructor: Curt Anderson, Ph.D.
Office:  LS 331
Research lab:  LS 330
Phone:  282-5813
Office hours: TBA


NOTE! download the entire syllabus and lab manual here

Link to laboratory page

Download Study Guide for Exam #1
Download Study Guide for Exam #2

To explore the phylogenetic underpinnings of vertebrates and to develop an appreciation for the comparative approach for understanding structure and functional design.  This course will survey the gross structure of most major vertebrate groups with a focus on the functional, evolutionary, developmental and physiological mechanisms that influence the design of organisms.

Required Texts
Vertebrates; comparative anatomy, function, evolution.  2002. Kardong. 3rd edition (second edition is okay, too, but the 3rd is better), Harcourt College Publishers.  ISBN: 0072909560

Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy  2002. Kardong and Zalisko. 3rd edition (much better than 2nd edition) ISBN: 0072909579

(used copies may be available.  try or

Course Policies
Students are expected to attend all lecture and laboratory sessions.  If you have extenuating circumstances and must miss, notify me ahead of time in order to schedule a make up exam (make up exams are generally more difficult).  Unexcused absences will result in a zero for that quiz/examination.  Quizzes will be given weekly in lab and missed quizzes can not be made up.  Throughout the semester, the correct answer to 'will this be on the test?' is yes.

Unavoidably, this course is a relatively expensive one.  Please see the laboratory page for a list of required equipment in addition to the texts.

A note on dissections:  EVERY student MUST participate in the dissection exercises.  The specimens we will be viewing come from supply companies that are required by law to ensure that the animals are euthanized in a safe and humane manner.  These animals were euthanized for our educational benefit and the proper level of professionalism will be maintained. If you have ethical or moral objections to dissecting animals, you should drop the course (BIOS 324 is the alternate course to fulfill the requirements of the zoology major).

The purpose of the assignment is to:
         supplement the material you are learning in lecture and laboratory
         force you to discover the primary literature (and where it is in the library)
         pursue a topic in comparative anatomy that is of interest to you

specific requirements:
Choose a topic of interest to you and relevant to the topic of comparative anatomy/functional morphology.  Using any literature sources you choose (but at least 5 MUST be from the primary literature!), you will summarize the appropriate research in an 8-10 page, double-spaced report.  As budding scientists, you will almost certainly be writing many more such reports in your future.  As such, writing, grammar and spelling in addition to content will be taken into account when considering your grade for the report.  Here are some potential topics to give you an idea of what is expected:
        allometry of the vertebrate brain
        theories on the evolution of flight
        functional anatomy and evolution of the lungs of flying vertebrates
        moving on land: optimizing for minimum cost
        optimality in the design of bony elements

Grading Procedures
The University has instituted a new grading policy that includes
the use of a + and - in addition to the letter grade.  The new grading
averages will be as follows:

A       (93.0 - 100%)
A-      (89.5 - 92.9%)
B+      (87.0 - 89.4%)
B        (83.0 - 86.9%)
B-       (79.5 - 82.9%)
C+       (77.0 - 79.4%)
C        (73.0 - 76.9%)
C-       (69.5 - 72.9%)
D+      (67.0 - 69.4%)
D        (63.0 - 66.9%)
D-       (59.5 - 62.9%)
F         (< 59.5%)

Your course grade will be based roughly on:
     3 lecture exams  100 points each
     2 lab exams        100 points each
     lab quizzes          50 points total
     written project   50 points
       total           600 points