Biology of the Vertebrates

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EEB 2214, Fall 2013
The evolution of form, function,
& diversity of the vertebrates

Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:45 in BPB130

Textbook: VERTEBRATE LIFE Pough F. H., C. M. Janis, and J. B. Heiser. 2009. Vertebrate Life, 9th Edition.
Prentice Hall.


Female with hatchlings.JPG

Dr. Kentwood Wells
Office: Torrey Life Sciences Building 380
Phone: (860) 486-4454
Office hours: by appointment

Susan Z. Herrick
Office: Torrey Life Science Building 470
Phone: (860) 486-5662
Office hours: by appointment

Alejandro Rico (Teaching Assistant)
Office: Biology/Pharmacy 404
Phone:(860) 486-0309
Office hours: Tuesdays 2-3 pm and by appointment



Exam 1 = 100 points (25%)
Exam 2 = 100 points (25%)
Exam 3 = 100 points (25%)
Final - Cumulative = 100 points (25%)

There will be two one-hour, non-cumulative, exams scheduled during the lecture hour. During the final exam period, a third one-hour exam will be given covering material from the final third of the course. Additionally a final cumulative exam will be administered at this time.

Course Policies

Missed Exams:
Any student who does not attend an exam and fails to receive permission in advance will receive a 0 for the exam. Approval of any request to miss an exam requires, but is not guaranteed by, verifiable written documentation of the reason. A student who receives approval to miss an exam will have his or her grade for the missed exam prorated based on his or her performance on the remainder of the exams. We will not give make-up exams. Every student must take the final (Exam 4). Permission to reschedule the final can only be obtained through procedures determined by the Office of Student Services and Advocacy.

Academic Integrity:
Plagiarism and cheating are violations of the student conduct code, and may be punished by failure in the course or, in severe cases, dismissal from the University. For more information, see Section IV of the Student Conduct Code.

If you have a disability for which you may be requesting an accommodation, you should contact a course instructor and the Center for Students with Disabilities (Wilbur Cross Building, Room 201) within the first two weeks of the semester.

Help Resources

The secret of success to this course is to not let yourself fall behind. Be sure to fill gaps in your notes and navigate blocks in your understanding as soon as possible. Should you run into trouble with the material, below we have listed some steps for obtaining assistance. While we welcome any and all questions on the material, before you contact us, please first check the resources below to see if your question has already been answered. If/when you do contact us, please understand that we will respond as quickly as we can, but we do have other obligations that might prevent this from happening as urgently as you may need (like 3:00 am the day of an exam...).

Study Materials:
The textbook for this course is Pough F. H., C. M. Janis, and J. B. Heiser. 2009. Vertebrate Life, 9th Edition. Prentice Hall. We strongly encourage you to read the assigned sections before lecture.

Study questions will be posted online after every lecture. These are intended to help you think about and synthesize information. They are not intended to provide a comprehensive study guide.

Phylogenetic Tree Resources:
The Pdficon small.gif phylogenetic tree of vertebrates provides the backbone for this course.
This Pdficon small.gifphylogeny tutorial is designed to help students review their knowledge of trees.

Review Sessions:
A review session will be held before each exam. Dates and times will be posted once they are set.

Links to External Resources:

DigiMorph - Excellent source of 2 & 3D images of internal & external structures of various organisms
ARKive - a unique collection of thousands of wildlife videos, images and fact-files, with a special focus on the world's threatened species
iNaturalist - an online database for logging observations of plants and animals. Go to project UConn Vert Bio!

Vertebrates in the News

Pea-sized Frog.jpg

Placoderm with JAWS! 25 Sept 2013

Predators in the 'Hood 20 Sept 2013

New legless lizards found in California 19 Sept 2013

New fungus species found killing salamanders 3 Sept 2013

Traveling with elders helps whooping cranes fly straight 30 Aug 2013

Boa Constrictor Seen Eating Howler Monkey in a First 27 Aug 2013

Birds pay attention to speed limits 26 Aug 2013

New cute furry mammal species discovered in Colombia and Ecuador 15 Aug 2013

The Serengeti Lion Aug 2013

Prehistoric rhino! 6 Dec 2012

New oldest dinosaur 4 Dec 2012

Diatryma: unequipped to be a carnivore? 23 Nov 2012

Turtles fossilised in sex embrace 19 June 2012

Chinese turtle passes WASTE urea through its MOUTH 11 October 2012

Bull sharks have strongest bite of all shark species 12 October 2012

Size matters for 'sex cheat' frogs 15 October 2012

Dolphin 'sponging' spans centuries 22 October 2012

Because the alternative title to this course is David Attenborough 101 17 Nov 2011

Monster croc! 6 Sept 2011

New species of Snub-nose Monkey found in Burma 30 Aug 2011

Dolphin tool use 28 Aug 2011

Pea-sized frog found in Borneo 30 Aug 2010

Lecture Schedule & Materials

Date Topic Readings Materials
Part I: Aug 27 - Oct 10, Dr. Kentwood Wells
Aug 27 Diversity, classification, and origin of vertebrates Chapters 1, 2 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 1 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 1 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 1 (Part 2)
Pdficon small.gif Vertebrate Phylogeny

Study Questions 1

Aug 29 Vertebrate body plan and organ systems Chapter 2 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 2 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 2 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 2 (Part 2)

Study Questions 2

Slow motion fish
Elongated swimmer
Fast swimmer
Flatfish lateral undulation
Dorsoventral flexion (you don't have to watch it until the end)

Answer to class question:
Sharks get cancer
I also recommend:
Some common misconceptions

Sept 3 Fossil and living jawless vertebrates Chapter 3 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 3 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 3 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 3 (Part 2)

Study Questions 3

Plate tectonics and subduction zones
Hagfish defense
Predation by hagfish
Hagfish Slime
Hagfish on sea floor
Hagfish feeding
Lamprey Spawning

Geological Time Scale Quick Reference

Sept 5 Evolution of jaws; biology of Chondrichthyes Chapters 3, 5 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 4 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 4 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 4 (Part 2)

Study Questions 4

Male Sand Tiger Shark Swimming
Whitetip Reef Sharks Mating
Leopard Shark Courtship
Lemon shark giving birth
Shark Feeding on Albatross
Whale Shark Feeding
Eagle Ray Feeding/Locomoting
Manta Ray Feeding

Sept 10 Evolution of bony fishes; Sarcopterygians Chapter 6 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 5 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 5 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 5 (Part 2)

Study Questions 5

Jaw protrusion animations
Fish Suction Feeding
Jaw protrusion champion
Paddlefish Feeding
African lakes formation
AFRICAN CICHLID DOCUMENTARY (PART 1 OF 6) You can keep watching by following the sequence

Sept 12 Respiration, feeding, schooling of fishes Chapters 4 and 6 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 6 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 6 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 6 (Part 2)

Study Questions 6

Barreleye video
Cool deep sea fish
Hairy Angler and Gulper Eel
Bait ball feast
Fish sphere: Less surface to volume ratio

Sept 19 Fish reproduction, mating systems, parental care Chapter 6 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 7 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 7 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 7 (Part 2)

Study Questions 7

Egg Care in Triggerfish
Weedy seadragons dance into the night
Flying fish
Fringeheads fighting
Convict Fish
Fish laying eggs in mussel
Salmon spawning run
Stickleback courtship and display

Sept 24 Origin of tetrapods
Review Session BPB 130 at 5 pm, bring questions!
Chapters 7, 8, 9 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 8 Outline

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 8 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 8 (Part 2)

Study Questions 8

"Your Inner Fish" Song
Water to land (minute 18)

Pdficon small.gif Review Session PPT

Sept 26 EXAM 1
Bring a #2 pencil

Lectures dating from Aug 27 - Sept 24 Pdficon small.gif 1st Exam Key
Oct 1 Diversity, morphology, feeding, reproduction and mating systems of amphibians Chapter 10 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 9 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 9 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 9 (Part 2)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 9 (Part 3)

Study Questions 9

Giant Salamander
Amphibian skin and waxy frog
Frog vs. Snake
Alpine newt courtship
Salamander tongue
Caecilian Feeding
Oct 3 Amniote evolution, morphology, and reproduction Chapter 11 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 10 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 10 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 10 (Part 2)

Study Questions 10

Dragons of the dry: Monitor lizard eggs in termite nest (Minute 4)
Dragons of the dry: Chameleons (Minute 12)

Oct 8 Lepidosaur biology Chapter 13 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 11 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 11 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 11 (Part 2)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 11 (Part 3)

Study Questions 11

Dragons of the dry: Geckos (21:30)
Sophisticated serpents: Locomotion and hunting (Starting in minute 1)
Sophisticated serpents: Snake tongue functioning
Sophisticated serpents: Feeding
Sophisticated serpents: King cobras fighting
Oct 10 Physiological adaptations of ectotherms Chapters 4, 13, 14 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 12 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 12

Study Questions 12

Turtle hatchlings supercooling
Frog popsicles
Countercurrent heat exchange (Minute 1)
Marine Iguanas Thermoregulation
Part II: Oct 15 - Dec 5, Instructor Susan Herrick
Oct 15 Turtles and Crocodilians Chapter 12 Hundreds of Turtles Arrive on Mexican Beach

Putting Time in Perspective

Pdficon small.gif Lecture 13 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 13 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 13 (Part 2)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 13 (Part 3)

Study Questions 13

Paleobiology with Evolutionary Milestones Across Geological Time
Evolution of the Turtle Shell
Box turtle vs. Raccoon
Long fingernailed turtle display
Turtle eating jellyfish
Turtles would eat plastic thinking it's jellyfish
Be responsible using plastic!

Oct 17 Dinosaurs and other Mesozoic diaspids Chapter 16 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 14 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 14

Study Questions 14

Liopleurodon (first minute, and minute 22)
Oct 22 Evolution and structure of birds Chapter 16 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 15 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 15 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 15 (Part 2)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 15 (Part 3)

Study Questions 15

Musical bird feathers
Countercurrent exchange and lung function in birds
Eagle owl
Oct 24 Feeding adaptations of birds Chapter 17 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 16 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 16 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 16 (Part 2)

Study Questions 16

Acorn woodpeckers and larders
Hummingbird migration
Hummingbird bill lengths (Minute 23)
Owl hearing and hunting
Kestrel vision exploiting voles urine (Minute 10)
Oct 29 Mating systems of birds
Review Session BPB 130 at 5 pm, bring questions!
Chapter 17 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 17 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 17 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 17 (Part 2)

Study Questions 17

The Life of Birds : Finding Partners

Pdficon small.gif Review Session 2 PPT
Oct 31 EXAM 2
Lectures dating from Oct 1 - Oct 29 Pdficon small.gif 2nd Exam Key
Nov 5 Cooperative breeding of birds Chapter 17 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 18 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 18 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 18 (Part 2)

Study Questions 18

Florida Scrub- Jay (Minute 8)
Kidnapping helpers (Minute 34:30)
Nov 7 Origin of mammals; monotremes and marsupials Chapter 18 Pdficon small.gif Lecture 19 Outline
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 19 (Part 1)
Pdficon small.gif Lecture 19 (Part 2)

Nov 12 Mammalian diversity Chapter 20
Nov 14 Mammalian feeding adaptations Chapter 21
Nov 19 Mammalian mating systems Chapter 21
Nov 21 Physiology of endotherms Chapter 21
Dec. 3 Migration and torpor in birds and mammals Chapter 22
Dec 5 Primate societies Chapter 23