Biology of the Vertebrates Study Questions F2012

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Note: These study questions are not comprehensive. They are meant to supplement your lecture notes as you review them, and alert you to the ways in which you should be thinking about the material, and formulate questions to test yourself. Exams will NOT be limited to the material highlighted in these questions, or their formats, so your lecture notes and handouts should be your primary reference.

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Lecture 1 (28 August 2012)

1. What are the reasons for studying a particular group of organisms such as vertebrates?

2. List the basic functions of living organisms. Provide a vertebrate example for each.

3. What is a trade-off? Explain it in terms of one of the two examples (e.g. lizards and salamanders) discussed in lecture.

4. Why weren't the ancestors of lizards subject to the same constraint (trade-off)? How have some lizard relatives escaped from this constraint (e.g. Komodo dragon)?

5. Hydromantes salamanders have a high performance, ballistic tongue. What two trade-offs have allowed for this?

Lecture 2 (30 August 2012)

1. Organize the vertebrate groups (12) from the most to the least diverse (# of spp.).

2. What is a "monophyletic group"? Draw the vertebrate phylogeny and label all major monophyletic groups discussed in lecture.

3. What vertebrates (use common names) belong in the Lepidosauria? Synapsida? Actinopterygii?

5. What are the six major deuterostome groups named in lecture? Describe a representative from each group.

6. Define the term "sister group". What is the sister group of hemichordates? What is the sister group of vertebrates?

*Please refer to the Pdficon small.gifPhylogeny Tutorial and Pdficon small.gifTree Quiz for additional help with phylogenetic trees*

Lecture 3 (4 September 2012)

1. Which is the sister group of Amniota?

2. How do cephalochordates (amphioxus) bring oxygen to every cell on their bodies?

3. List three key traits (features) found in chordates. Why are Urochordates (sea squirts, tunicates) considered to be chordates when they do not possess any of these features as adults?

4. Describe the reproductive strategies of amphioxus (subphylum Cephalochordata), tunicates (subphylum Urochordata), and hagfishes (subphylum Vertebrata, Myxinoidea). Which of these lineages has the ability of reproduce clonally?

5. Describe the circulatory system of amphioxus (subphylum Cephalochordata), and tunicates (subphylum Urochordata). Which of these groups has a heart? An anterior enlargement of the nerve cord?

Lecture 4 (6 September 2012)

1. Name two traits of the feeding apparati that are shared by hagfishes and lampreys, but are different when compared to gnathostomes.

2. Describe the life history and reproductive behavior of the lamprey (Petromyzontoidea). In what ways does it differ from that of the hagfish (Myxinoidea)?

3. Both hagfish and lampreys are similar in overall body size and shape (e.g., elongate, and without paired appendages). What are some key morphological/anatomical features that can be used to differentiate between these two groups?

4. What is a "synapomorphy"? List the chordate traits (4). Which of these are considered synapomorphies?

5. Provide a brief description of the probable morphology of the ancestral chordate, given what is known about its living descendants.

6. List three vertebrate synapomorphies. List three gnathostomes synapomorphies. List two hagfish synapomorphies. List a lamprey synapomorphy.

7. Provide a brief description of the probable morphology of the ancestral vertebrate, given what is known about its living descendants.

Lecture 5 (11 September 2012)

1. Why are the "teeth" of hagfish (Myxinoidea) not homologous (i.e., evolutionarily related structures) to the teeth of other vertebrate lineages, like sharks, bony fishes, and mammals?

2. What key features place the Cambrian fossil Haikouella in the vertebrate lineage? Where would you place it on the vertebrate phylogeny?

3. What are two distinct traits seen in the Cambrian fossil Haikouichthyes (Myllokumingia) that are not seen in Haikouella?

4. What are "conodont fossils"? Why did it take so long to determine what they actually were (i.e., what organism they belonged to)? Where would you place conodont fossils on the vertebrate phylogeny?

5. Which are the three mineralized tissue layers that compose the external skeleton (dermal armor) of jawless armored fishes? What are the hypothesized functions of the external skeleton? List the three major dermal armor derivatives.

6. Describe the mineral composition of each of the three types of fish scales. Provide an example of a type of fish that possesses each of these scale types. What are the advantages of having scales as opposed to body armor?

Lecture 6 (13 September 2012)

1. Be able to answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions for vertebrate traits discussed in lecture. For example, the origin of jaws is seen in the ancestor to what lineages? In what environment did jaws evolve? In what geological time period did jaws evolve? What anatomical feature are jaws modified from? What is the ancestral function of jaws? What is the primary function of jaws in most extant gnathostome (jawed vertebrate) lineages?

2. In what groups do we see both paired pectoral and pelvic fins? What is the ancestral function of possessing paired fins? Briefly describe the two theories of fin evolution.

3. In what geological period do researchers think placoderms reached their highest diversity? When do chondrichthyians first show up in the fossil record?

4. Name the two major groups within Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes) and give an example of an animal that belongs to each lineage. List some unique features for each group.

5. Which are the chondrichthyian characteristics? Out of those which are considered synapomorphies?

6. Why would it be advantageous to have a mineralized cartilaginous skeleton? What would be a disadvantage for possessing this type of skeleton?

7. Provide a brief description of reproduction in sharks. How can a female shark control parentage?

8. What is viviparity? In what vertebrate lineages do viviparous organisms occur?

Lecture 7 (18 September 2012)

1. Elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) have a large diversity of tooth shapes. Describe two different shapes seen in sharks and rays. What are the functions of each of these different tooth shapes?

2. Briefly describe the jaw movement(s) in sharks.

3. Provide the who (which lineage), why (function), and how of the "Ampullae of Lorenzini"?

4. Why are the Ampullae of Lorenzini thought to be responsible for the unique head shapes in chondrichthyians?

5. Describe two differences between rays and other elasmobranchs.

6. Compare the jaws of elasmobranchs and bony fishes. What are some major ways in which they are similar? What are some ways in which they are different?

7. Describe and name three advantages of jaw protrusion in teleosts. Which traits involved in jaw protrusion are synapomorphies of teleosts?

Lecture 8 (20 September 2012)

1. Define symplesiomorphy. What is the difference with synapomorphy?

2. Which are synapomorphies of osteichthyans (bony fishes)? What two extant lineages belong in Osteichthyes? Which are synapomorphies of Actinopterygians (ray-finned fishes)? Which originated within teleosts?

3. What are pharyngeal jaws? What is their function? What is unique about the pharyngeal jaws of the Moray Eel?

4. Provide the who (which lineage), where (what environment), why (ancestral function), and how (physiological function) of the "swim bladder". Name an extra function of the swim bladder in Toadfish.

5. Name two regions in the world with both high freshwater and marine fish diversity.

6. What are the adaptations that allow icefish to live in the Antartic?

7. What adaptations have allowed fishes such as the Viperfish, Anglerfish, and Sea Devil to live in the deep ocean? In what ways are Whalefish larvae different from adults and females different from males?

8. What are the five groups of Actinopterygii? Which of these lineages is the most diverse and the least diverse? What is thought to be one possible explanation for the great diversity of Teleosts despite being evolutionarily "young" (<150 million years old)? List one Teleost synapomorphy.

Lecture 9 (25 September 2012)

1. Briefly describe the reproductive biology of the Anglerfish. Why this extreme form of sexual dimorphism is so unique to this group?

2. Name the only vertebrate with hermaphrodite organism that are able of self fertilization. Why this extreme form of reproduction is so unique to this species?

3. Describe how a lungfish can facultatively switch between breathing aquatically and aerially? List three synapomorphies for Actinistia.

4. What are the key morphological/anatomical characteristics that differentiate coelacanths (Actinistia) from Actinopterygians and other Sarcopterygians? Describe the reproduction of coelacanths.

5. List the traits that tetrapods gain and lose during the evolutionary water to land transition.

Answer the following "who, what, when, where, why, how" questions for each of the following questions:

What is it?
Who (what lineage) discussed in today's lecture is it seen it?
When (in evolutionary time) is it first seen?
Where (geogaphically, season-wise, and habitat-wise) does it occur?
How does it work?
Why does this lineage aestivate?

What is it?
Who (what lineage) discussed in today's lecture is it seen it?
When (roughly in evolutionary time) is it first seen?
Where (anatomically) does it occur?
How does it work?
Why (what is the function)?

What is it?
When (in evolutionary time)?
Where (geographically, and habitat-wise) was it found?
Why is it considered a transitional fossil between fish and tetrapods. List its fish characteristics and its tetrapod characteristics?

EXAM 1 (27 September 2012)

Lecture 10 (2 October 2012)

Answer the following "who, what, when, where, why, how" questions for each of the following questions:

What is it?
When (in evolutionary time)?
Where (geographically, and habitat-wise) was it found?
Why is it considered a transitional fossil between fish and tetrapods?
List its fish characteristics and its tetrapod characteristics.

What is it?
When (in evolutionary time)?
Where (geographically, and habitat-wise) was it found?
Why is it considered a transitional fossil between fish and tetrapods?
List its fish characteristics and its tetrapod characteristics.

What is it?
When (in evolutionary time do we first observe these)?
Where (anatomically) is it found?
Why (what is its functon)?

4. What key tetrapod trait is first seen in Acanthostega and Ichthyostega?

5. Where on the vertebrate phylogeny do Tiktaalik, Acanthostega, and Ichthyostega map out?

6. When do amphibians first appear in the fossil record?

7. Explain the hotspot of amphibian diversity in the southeast of North America.

Lecture 11 (4 October 2012)

1. What are the adaptations that allow caecilians to successfully live fossorially (underground)? Describe caecilian reproduction. Describe a unique caecilian parental behavior that has only recently observed.

2. What morphological characteristics does Eocaecilia share with extant caecilians. What morphological characteristics differ between the two?

3. What is the geographic distribution of living caudates? In which way are caudates (i.e., salamanders and newts) important to ecosystems?

4. Complete the phrase: "All newts are salamanders but...."

5. Please describe salamander reproduction (as seen in most lineages). Why is this considered indirect internal fertilization?

6. In which two extreme environments anurans are not found?

7. List the skeletal features of a frog that allows it to be a great jumper. How does the skeleton of Triadobatrachus differ from that of a modern frog? In what ways is it similar? What time period does Triadobatrachus date back to? When in geologic time was the split between anurans and their sister group, the caudates (from Lecture 10)?

8. Why are amphibians (specifically anurans and caudates) so important in the proper functioning of an ecosystem?

9. What are the anatomical, physiological, and ecological changes a tadpole undergoes as it metamorphoses into a frog? Why is this transition considered more drastic in a tadpole, as opposed to a larval salamander?

Lecture 12 (9 October 2012)

1. Identify synapomorphies for caecilians (Apoda) and frogs (Anura). Which are the amphibian synapomorphies?

2. What are the two types of skin glands founds in all living amphibians? Please list the functions of each gland type.

3. Please provide several examples of defensive behavior seen in amphibians.

4. When did the amniotes diversify? Which other diversification event coincides with the one in amniotes? What could be inferred from this coincidence?

5. In what ways were the ancestors of amniotes still dependent on water? Which adaptations have amniotes evolved to lessen their dependence on water and become largely terrestrial? In what ways have some groups of amphibians also overcome this dependence on water?

6. Describe the amniotic egg and the function of each of the three membranes.

7. Which are the synapomorphies of each of the following lineages: amniotes, sauropsids, lepidosaurs? Draw the amniote phylogeny. Draw the tetrapod phylogeny.

8. What is tail autonomy? Who is it found in? How does it work?

9. What is the evolutionary/adaptive significance of tail autotomy? Which structures in the tail do not regenerate when it grows back? What are these structures replaced with?

Lecture 13 (11 October 2012)

1. What is TSD (temperature-dependent sex determination)? In what lineages discussed in today's lecture is it found in?

2. What could be a potential effect of global warming in Tuatara conservation? Explain.

3. Compare and contrast the diversity, morphology, reproductive behavior, ecology, and geographical distribution of sphenodons (tuataras) to that of squamates (lizards, snakes).

4. What is the functional significance of the diapsid skull evolution?

5. What are the challenges of living in a desert environment? How do squamates cope with each of these challenges? In what ways are lizards able to thermoregulate? Explain how some ectotherms can be homeotherms.

6. Why ectotherms are better than endotherms at using patchy (spatial and temporal) resources?

7. List the synapomorphies of snakes. Is the loss of hind limbs and reduction of pelvic girdle a snake synapomorphy? Provide support for your answer.

8. Explain why lizards are not a monophyletic group.

9. What is thought to be the most important feature for the evolutionary success of snakes?

Lecture 14 (16 October 2012)

1. What are the parts of a turtle shell? What is the shell composed of? In what ways is having a shell beneficial? How is it disadvantageous (not beneficial)?

2. When did turtles evolve? Briefly describe the process of morphological transition between an early amniot body plan and the derived turtle morphology.

3. Name the three potential phylogenetic placements of turtles and each of the major lines of evidence supporting them.

4. Which is the importance of the trochlear process in turtle evolution?

5. Provide at least 6 turtle synapomorphies. Which of these synapomorphies is seen only in modern lineages of turtles? In what way do modern turtles differ from the 220 million year old fossil Proganochelys? What are the similarities between this fossil and modern turtles?

6. What are the two major lineages of turtles? What is the key morphological/anatomical difference between members of these two lineages?

7. Which kind of environments do turtles avoid (judging by their global distribution patterns)?

8. How does morphology differ between turtles that are primarily terrestrial and those that spend most of their time in the water?

Lecture 15 (18 October 2012)

1. Describe the range of diet in turtles. Cite one example of specialization.

2. Regardless of what type of habitat they live in, all female turtles must come on land to lay their eggs. Please comment on the reproductive behavior of turtles (e.g., egg laying behavior, presence or absence of parental care).

3. How is the sex of a turtle determined? In a population of mostly males, a female who could produce female offspring would have higher fitness (its progeny would be more successful in finding mates). Could a female turtle modify its nest making behavior in order to have higher fitness? If so, what would be a reason for the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination?

4. The pivotal temperature in a turtle clutch (the temperature at which above it would produce females and below it would produce males) varies across species from 25 to 30°C. What are the implications of this in the face of global warming?

5. Which species of turtle could be considered endothermic and which are the adaptations that allow this condition? What are the benefits and how is this reflected behaviorally?

6. What is peculiar about turtle circulation and which advantages it offers to their behavior?

7. Describe how turtles breathe, given the fact that their ribs are fused to their shell. Why is breathing in turtles more energetically expensive than other tetrapods?

8. Describe five synapomorphies of the Archosauria. In what ways have these synapomorphies allowed archosaurs to be highly efficient and successful predators?

9. What is a synapomorphy of the Crurotarsi? Where are crocodilians located relative to dinosaurs on the phylogeny? Which EXTANT group is most closely related to crocodilians? Why aren't these two extant lineages considered sister groups?

10. What are the three major lineages of crocodilians. Discuss a few major morphological and ecological characteristics of each these families.

Lecture 16 (23 October 2012)

1. Describe two crocodilian synapomorphies. What type of predator is a crocodilian? How have these synapomorphies allowed crocodilians to exploit this particular type of predatory strategy?

2. Which benefits brings the ectotherm condition of modern crocodiles and why this condition evolved from endothermic ancestors?

3. How does the crocodilian heart differ from that of squamates? Briefly describe the shunting mechanism and its functional significance. In addition to the heart, what else enables crocodilians to stay submerged under water for long periods of time.

4. Describe at least one specialized morphological trait and at least one specialized behavioral trait that allows crocodilians to be deadly predators.

5. If we know both birds and crocodilians build and defend nests, care for hatchlings, and have complex social behavior, what can we infer about the extinct lineages of Archosauria?

6. What do crocodilians and turtles have in common regarding their reproductive biology? How do they differ?

7. What is a dinosaur?

8. Briefly describe the characteristics of the three groups of marine reptiles (which coexisted with dinosaurs) discussed in class.

9. What lineage is sister to the Crurotarsi? What group is sister to pterosaurs?

10. Name some of the important evolutionary trends in Ornithodirans.

Lecture 17 (25 October 2012)

1. Describe some of the morphological characteristics related to flight, and collectively, their ecological implications. What is the first lineage of vertebrates that we see flight as a mode of locomotion? How were they flying (i.e., flapping or gliding)? What are the two main lineages of this group and how do they differ?

2. Which morphological synapomorphy of pterosaurs resembles their name?

3. In what ways were pterosaurs morphologically and ecologically diverse? Name at least three feeding styles.

4. Name the possible functional hypotheses of pterosaur head and snout crests.

5. What might have contributed to the decline and ultimate extinction of pterosaurs?

6. List the synapomorphies for the following clades: Ornithodira, Pterosauria, and Dinosauria.

7. Name a reason that allowed dinosaurs to be giant.

8. What extant lineage needs to be included in order for Dinosauria to be considered a monophyletic grouping? What is the ancestral condition of Dinosauria, bipedalism or quadrupedalism?

9. What are the two major groups in Dinosauria? How does the pelvic arrangement differ between these groups? Which of these groups is the one leading to birds, and why are the common names of these groups misleading?

10. List four characteristics of the two main dinosaur lineages.

EXAM 2 (30 October 2012)

Lecture 18 (1 November 2012)

Lecture 19 (6 November 2012)

1. What is the functional significance of the differences in the pelvic arrangement between the two major groups in Dinosauria?

2. List six Ornithiscian synapomorphies. Give at least four examples of ornithiscian dinosaurs.

3. Comment on the diets of ornithiscians and saurischians. In what ways do you think diet has influenced their anatomy (i.e., think how the rib cage and pelvis orientation differs between these two lineages)?

4. What do Ornithiscians and Sharks have in common (besides being vertebrates)?

5. What do Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus have in common (besides being Thyreophora)?

6. Which are the theories for the diversity of head structures in Ornithiscians?

7. What are the major saurischian synapomorphies? What are the two main groups within Saurischia? Which is the lineage leading to birds?

8. What was the Sauropod diet and which morphological adaptations are associated with it?

Lecture 20 (8 November 2012)

1. Feathers evolved in Theropods, why wasn't there a need to evolve feathers in Sauropods?

2. Are hollow bones restricted to flying animals? Justify.

3. List the Theropoda synapomorphies. What are the three main lineages within Theropoda? Name a representative and distinctive characteristic of each group.

4. What fossil evidence provides support that saurischians had parental care in the form of nest building and attendance?

5. What is a morphological distinctive feature of maniraptors? In what ways has this synapomorphy contributed to flight in modern birds?

6. What is Archaeopteryx? When was it discovered and what geological period does it date back to? How large was it?

7. Why was the discovery of Archaeopteryx so significant? In what ways is Archaeopteryx similar to both dinosaurs and modern birds? In what ways does it differ from Aves (birds)?

8. What are some proposed reasons feathers evolved? What are the proposed theories for the evolution of flight?

9. What came first, feathers, flight, or dinosaurs? Describe the evolutionary relationship between feathers and flight in birds.

Lecture 21 (13 November 2012)

1. What is the most important factor for dictating avian mating systems? Describe the differences between altricial vs. precocial offspring. How does precocial vs. altricial condition of offspring relate to the type of mating system exhibited by the parents?

2. Are most birds truly monogamous? Explain the different forms of "monogamy" and how each parent benefits from different forms of monogamy. When would each type be selected for?

3. What influences the form of polygamous mating systems? What factors underlie the differences between male & female interests in reproduction?

4. Why are males more likely to desert a reproductive alliance than females? What makes parental care such an important investment; i.e., what are the potential costs?

5. Briefly describe the polygamy threshold model. Is it better to be polygamous in a higher quality habitat, or monogamous in a lower quality habitat? Explain.

6. What limits clutch size (= number of eggs laid in a given reproductive bout) in birds?

7. Describe the characteristics of the cleidoic shell; i.e., what’s it made of, what functions does it serve, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

8. Why do females get to be so choosy about males? How do males try to convince females that they are the best possible male?

Lecture 22 (15 November 2012)

1. How do mammals and birds differ regarding to their genetic system of sex determination?

2. Briefly explain in your own words how Bernoulli’s principle applies to flight in birds.

3. What is the main difference between dynamic soaring and high aspect ratio wings? How does this relate to the flight styles they are adapted to?

4. How does hovering flight (in hummingbirds) differ from flapping flight in other birds?

5. Name one skeletal and one muscular modification that provides evidence for birds' commitment to flight.

6. Why do birds have higher metabolic rates (when compared to other major vertebrate groups)?

7. Which are two adaptations in the jaws of birds that are related to their flying lifestyle?

8. How do bird tongues differ from mammal tongues?

9. List the unusual feeding behaviors of birds seen in class. Describe your favorite!

Lecture 23 (27 November 2012)

1. Explain the differences between the hearts of Turtles, Lizards, Crocodiles, Birds and Mammals.

2. What is the importance of unidirectional flow in the avian lungs?

3. Why unidirectional flow makes birds the group with the most efficient respiration among vertebrates?

4. Explain how avian respiratory system structures ensure unidirectional flow in the lungs?

5. Why birds have to eat so frequently?

6. List the functions of the crop.

7. What are the differences between the two parts of the "stomach" in birds (i.e. Proventriculus and Gizzard)?

8. Discuss the causes (in terms of resources) and consequences (in terms of physiology and behavior) of migration in birds.

9. Which is the sister group of mammals? How do these two groups differ in their skull characteristics?

Lecture 24 (29 November 2012)

1. What’s the difference between a synapomorphy and a trend? Describe six important trends in the Synapsida? Which is the only surviving group of synapsids?

2. Name the main four groups of synapsids. Are they paraphyletic or monophyletic?

3. Describe major features mammals have that are evident from the fossil record.

4. What were early mammals, such as Morganucodon ca. 200 MYA, like?

5. The "nocturnal bottleneck theory" suggests that mammalian sensory traits were influenced by an extended period of adaptation to nocturnality during the Mesozoic Era. Describe which important traits evolved as adaptations to nocturnal habits in mammals.

6. Which changes in the jaws lead to the transition from the reptilian to mammalian jaw joint? How does this relate to hearing?

7. What are the three major groups of extant mammals? What does the mammalian phylogeny look like?

8. How are monotremes typically distinguished from the other two? Is this a good way of characterizing a group?

9. What are the two major groups within Monotremata? Give examples of species and their major characteristics.

Lecture 25 (December 4, 2012)

1. Describe the major characteristics of marsupials. Where do they occur? Where are they most diverse? Give examples of some species and their characteristics.

2. What is the difference between altricial and precocial offspring? Which are the advantages and disadvantages of each parenting strategy?

3. What is the advantage of the particular way of marsupial reproduction (compared to placental mammals) and in which environments this reproductive strategy would be advantageous?

4. Which major evolutionary feature characterizes Eutheria? How diverse is this group?

5. Eutheria is characterized by prolonged retention of offspring. Describe the main ways in which this is accomplished.

6. Describe some advantages and disadvantages of eutherian reproduction, particularly with regard to prolonged retention of young.

7. Which is the characteristic that unites placentals and marsupials into the clade Therians?

8. List the advantages of lactation. Evolutionarily, from which muscles do facial muscles evolve from?

9. Describe the function of nasal turbinates.

Lecture 26 (December 6, 2012)

1. Give examples (at least 5) of convergent evolution between marsupials and placentals.

2. When did the great american biotic interchange take place? List the main groups that moved northwards and southwards.

3. What evidence supports the overkill hypothesis of the extinction of terrestrial megafauna? Mention one alternative hypothesis.

4. Describe the morphological traits associated to general insectivory in mammals and provide particular examples.

5. Name the convergent clades that have evolved specialized insectivory to catch ants and termites and describe their morphological adaptations.

6. Why are bats so special among mammals?

7. Describe the morphological traits associated to omnivory in mammals and provide particular examples.

8. Why are rodents so successful? Describe their feeding strategies.

9. Describe the morphological traits associated to herbivory in mammals and provide particular examples.

10. Describe the morphological traits associated to carnivory in mammals and provide particular examples.

11. Which mammalian clades are fully aquatic? Which is the sister group of cetaceans?

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