|Module Title||THE LIFE OF VERTEBRATES|
|Co-ordinator||Dr Joanne V Hamilton|
|Other staff||Dr Robert J Wootton, Dr Joseph E Ironside|
|Pre-Requisite||Normally A or AS Biology or its equivalent.|
|Course delivery||Lecture||16 x 1 h lectures|
|Practical||3 x 3h practicals (duplicated)|
Tetrapod origins from the lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygians) and the evolution of the first land vertebrates are explored. The general anatomy of modern amphibians (urodeles, anurans) is considered with reference to locomotion, respiration, osmoregulation and reproduction. Urodele and anuran metamorphosis is discussed together with variation in life histories, biochemical changes (excretion, haemoglobin) and hormonal control (role of thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus).
The general characteristics of reptiles are described, emphasising the structural and reproductive adaptations which equip them for a fully terrestrial existence. The modern replies are surveyed, illustrating the major sub-divisions of the class in terms of living representatives (lizards and snakes, turtles, crocodilians). A brief evolutionary history of the group is discussed, summarising ideas on the origins and fate of some of the more important lineages.
Archaeopteryx and its significance for bird evolution is discussed, as well as the evolution of feathers, aerodynamics of flight, and the structure and physiology of modern birds with special reference to flight. Also, bird reproduction and the cleidoic egg.
The lectures conclude with a discussion of the mammals: their origins and the structural characteristics of the group. This section of the course begins with as discussion of the monotremes (egg-laying mammals) and the marsupials (pouched mammals) and their adaptive radiation and geographical distribution. Finally the placental mammals are discussed. Particular reference is made to their evolution and the mode of life of the major types: insectivores, carnivores, herbivores, aquatic mammals and primates.
Practical classes illustrate and develop the main themes of the lectures, especially through laboratory demonstrations of specimens, related video sequences, and a visit to Borth Animalarium where students can relate the material covered in lectures to living specimens. There are no dissections.
This module is at CQFW Level 4