BISC 2333

BISC 2333/GEOL 2333
Course Prerequisites: BISC 1111-1112 or GEOL 1001-1002 or 1002-1005
Required text: The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs, 2nd Edition, by David E.
Fastovsky and David B. Weishampel, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 500 pp. Other
required readings will be posted on Blackboard.
Learning Objectives: Students should learn to recognize the different kinds of dinosaurs
and know their occurrences in time and space, understand their evolutionary relationships
to each other and to other vertebrates, understand the rise of modern vertebrates during
the Age of Dinosaurs, and be familiar with the different techniques that scientists use to
understand the biology of these fascinating animals. This will include a basic
understanding of geological dating, plate tectonics, and evolutionary analysis, and how
hypotheses about evolutionary history and extinctions are formulated and tested.
Course Structure: The course will intersperse basic educational materials (e.g.,
geological time periods, dinosaur taxonomy) with recently published examples of
problems in dinosaur paleontology. Activities include lectures, videos, and readings that
immerse learners in dinosaur biology. Online discussions will require participation from
all students, and encourage reflection on course content, provide support, and encourage
interaction between the instructor and students as well as between students. Assignments
offer a range of opportunities for review, exploration and skill- building activities
including case studies, quantitative reasoning, written analyses and three exams.
Evaluations: There will be three non-cumulative examinations (60%), two exercises
(10%), and one term paper (~20 pages; 20%). Students will receive a grade for
participation in online discussions (10%). The examinations will test basic knowledge as
well as your ability to synthesize more complex concepts. Exercises will be designed to
allow students to apply methodologies, test and develop hypotheses, and solve problems.
The term paper will involve literature-based research on a topic to be chosen following
discussion with the instructors, and if possible a visit to a local museum. The term paper
will be evaluated based on its organization, the completeness of pertinent and timely
references, the scientific reasoning employed, and the logic of its conclusions.
Everything submitted as an exercise, examination, term paper, or discussion post must be
an original work. For clarification of the GWU conduct code and penalties consult . If you become aware of any acts of academic
misconduct we urge you bring them to our attention.
Netiquette: During online discussions, please be professional, respectful, and courteous
to your fellow students and professors, and gracious of differing opinions. Support your
hypotheses/opinions/viewpoints in posts with data and references. Proofread and spell
check your post prior to publishing; if you discover a mistake after publishing you can
reopen the post and correct it. All posts to the discussion board need to stay on topic;
spurious posts will be removed. Similarly, we reserve the right to delete any post that
we find inappropriate for the online discussion including those containing language that
is offensive, rude, or profane.