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Palaeobiology (The History of Life)

Paleobiology (or paleontology) is concerned with the history of life. We are all aware of the important role that the dinosaurs played in terrestrial ecosystems over the last couple of hundred million years, but the record of life goes back much further than that, possibly to four billion years.

Modern day coral reef ecosystem
Modern day coral reef ecosystem
Over this time the Earth's surface and the oceans have seen great creatures rise and fall, of which the dinosaurs make up just one of many fascinating episodes. 

Trilobite ©Department of Earth Sciences

The archives of time hold a vast array and selection of traces of this past life, offering windows onto these lost worlds. We explore this fossil record and develop the skills that will let us know how reefs developed, how the land was colonized, and how giant meteorite impacts snuffed much of the biosphere, leaving a handful of survivors to repopulate the planet. By the end of the course you can expect to have an in-depth appreciation of the entire tree of life.

For the relevant Part IA content, see the IA Palaeobiology Course, and the IA Dinosaurs and Fossil Vertebrates Course.