Life Through Time – Evolutionary Palaeontology (Week 5)

Tiktaalik roseae in the Chicago Museum

The pdf of the lecture notes for week 5 can be found here: 2013_LifeThruTime_Lect5

Classifying species

An interesting overview of fossils and the species concept can be read here.

The International Code on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) explains why Carl von Linne/Carolus Linnaeus is the type specimen of Homo sapiens here.

The Natural History Museum, meanwhile, explains the taxonomy of Neanderthals here.

An interesting debate on species identification and sexual selection in the fossil record is taking place in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and can be read here.

The origins of vertebrates

Dr Paul Willis of the Royal Insitution of Australia explains here why we are all fish.

Matt Friedman and Lauren Sallan’s recent review of 500 million years of fish evolution can be downloaded here: Friedman_Sallan2012_Fossil_fish

Gnathostomes, or jawed fish, are explained on the Tree of Life web project here.

A BBC news article on a mysterious, spiral-toothed Carboniferous fish can be found here.

On a similar note, the ‘hyper-chisel’ teeth of the silvery mole rat can be admired here. To clarify the class discussion, most rodents have teeth which keep on growing, but the mole rat is very unusual in having a shark-like conveyor belt that keeps generating new teeth.

The University of Chicago website explaining the extraordinary story of the ‘fishapod’ Tiktaalik roseae can be found here.

The origins of land plants

A University of Florida webpage on the transition of plants onto land can be read here.

The Wikipedia entry on the evolutionary history of plants is thorough, and can be read here.

A University of Aberdeen website on the flora of the Rhynie Chert can be found here.

Robert Berner’s short review of Phanerozoic oxygen levels and the importance of land plants can be read here: Berner1999_Phanerozoic_oxygen

An article explaining the value of fossil plants in reconstructing ancient climates can be found here.


Earth scientist in York, fossilist across Yorkshire. Co-director of the Yorkshire Fossil Festival and palaeontologist for hire. Can be found twittering, facebooking, and instagramming as @fossiliam.


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