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The University of Southampton

BIOL2054 Vertebrate Zoology

Module Overview

Vertebrates are amongst the most successful animal groups. From fish, amphibians, lizards, crocodiles, birds and mammals, you will gain an understanding how the basal members of the clade have diversified and evolved to fill every imaginable niche on land, sea and air. You will develop an overview of the anatomy, physiology, behaviour and the ecological interactions across this group of vertebrates.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of chordates and amniote vertebrates.
  • Understand the shape of the amniote tree, and the internal relationships of different groups within it.
  • Determine the evolutionary history/palaeobiology of selected amniote groups.
  • Gain an understanding of amniote physiology and behaviour


Topics will include: - Introduction and the characteristics of chordates and vertebrates - Fish diversity - Reptiles: evolution, taxonomy and characteristics, ecology and reproduction of turtles, crocodiles and aligators and marine iguanas and Mesozoic reptiles -Palaeobiology of Mesozoic marine reptiles, dinosaurs, and other extinct taxa - Birds: origin and structure, ecological adaptations of the derived Theropod dinosaurs - Mammals: characteristics and ecology including behaviour.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will provide an introduction to the theory underlying the characteristics and affinities of Amniotes. Topics covered will include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Visit: A visit to the Oxford Univeristy Natural History Museum to see representatives of the different types of vertebrates in both whole and skeletonized form. A wide range of support is available for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study119
Practical classes and workshops9
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment  (9 hours) 30%
Exam  (120 minutes) 70%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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