Degree course: 
Corso di Second cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours)

The teaching does not require any prerequisite, but it is preferable having attended the Paleontology course in the Bachelor’s degree. Also useful is a basal knowldege of Zoology.

Final Examination: 

Evaluation will be performed with a final test (oral exam) . Exams are scheduled according to the number planned by the Degree Course. The exam will consist in three questions:
The first question will consist of a deepening of a topic covered during the class, chosen by the student; the mode of the presentation is chosen by the student: simply oral presentation, or accompanied by Power Point slides, etc. The other two question will be at teacher discretion.
The student will have to demonstrate to

1. Be able to describe the morphofunctional significance of a skeletal structure.
2. Be able to define the skeletal morphological requisites for a given adaptation.
3. Be able to apply the knowledge about skeletal morpholgical requsites to interpret the mode of life of an extinct vertebrate and thus infer its mode of life and environment.
4. Knowthe main criteria for the realization of a feasible reconstruction of the performances and appearance of selected groups of extinct vertebrates and apply these criterai in a critical evaluation of static or dynamic recostructions present in mseum exhibits.
Grade will be in 30th.

Voto Finale

The teaching aims to give to students the knowledge to:
• Interpret the functional morphology of the skeleton (and secondarilythe interaction between skeleton and musculature) in fossil Vertebrates,
• Recognize the functional adaptation and thus the ecological niche occupied by extinct Vertebrates on the basis of skeletal remains
• Understand main concepts of virtual morphofunctional modelization for the study of extinct Vertebrates and the criterai that lead the reconstructions both for scientific and divulgation purposes.
The teaching aims to provide the tools for a more complete understanding of the development of Vertebrate adaptations and for a critical evaluation of related aspects of divulgation in museums and media.

Learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will be able to:
1) Describe the Vertebrate bauplan, the structure of the skeleton of main muscle groups in different vertebrate groups,
2) Identify the link between form and function at the level of organisms or of sigle structures, including the influence of size on structure and performances.
3) Hypotesize the mode of life of extinct vertebrate taxa both by analogy with extant ones and by functional intepretation.
4) Describe the aims of morphofunctional models for research
5) Knowledge of the main criteria to critically evaluate reconstructions of ancient vertebrates made for didactical or divulgation purposes.

The teaching willd deal with the following topics: riguarderà le seguenti tematiche:
Introduction to fossils and evolutionary history of Vertebrates.
Introduction to Functional Morphology. Functional Morphology and Paleobiology, environmental Morfologia Funzionale e Paleobiologia: Environmental, genetic and ontogenetic factors determining the structural bauplan of Vertebrates. Methods to infer function from shape and structure.
The Vertebrate Skeleton; The vertebrate bauplan, the Tetrapod body bauplan The skeleton of Bony fishes, of Reptiles, of Birds and of Placental Mammals.
Adaptations of the skeleton and musculature to different locomotion modes in Vertebrates: Swimming in Fishes and Tetrapods, Terrestrial Locomotion: walking, running and jumping, digging and crawling without limbs; scansorial and arboreal adaptation; Flight adaptation;
Adaptation to different feeding strategies in lower Vertebrates: Aquatic feeding in Actinopterygian fishe, in Amphibiand and Reptiles. Terrestrial feeding in Amphibians and Reptiles.
Functional Interpretation of selected groups of extinct Vertebrates by analogy with extant groups or by structural analysis; Paleobiology and structural evolution in the Triassci actinopterygian fish Saurichthys. Interpretation of bipedal locomotion in the extinct Bolosaurids and terrestrial Tanystropheids by analogy with facultative bipedal locomotion in extant Squamates. Comparison between different interpretations about the morphology and paleoecology of some problematical taxa among which Tanystropheus, the giant Azdarchid Pterosaurs. Evolution of the adaptation to marine life in extinct crocodiles and in Spinosaurus (Dinosauria Theropoda). Studies on the locomotory performances of giant Sauropod Dinosaurs. Functional Morphology of some prehistoric mammals such as saber toothed predators and Gliptodonts (giant armadillos).
Functional Morphology and Virtual Paleontology aims, diversity of applicationsrelated to scientific research and media communication. Examples of realization of models and evaluation of modelizations of prehistoric vertebrates reconstructions, both static and animated, made for didactical-divulgation scope or for entertainment. Elements for a critical evaluation of the same.

Pdf with the slides of the lessons available on elearning, free access scientific literature available on elearning. useful but not mandatory.Highly recommended but not mandatory the book Bonnan. M. F. 2016. The Bare Bones: An Unconventional Evolutionary History of the Skeleton. Indiana University Press. 508 pp. ISBN 978-0-253-01832-8 (available also as e-book).

Front lessons with the help of slides, videos and collective discussions on the relevant scientific literature. During the lessons “case studies” on extinct vertebrates will be discusse witht the aim of critically evaluate alternative functional intepretations.
Students will also be involved in guided activities in which they will have to propose hypotheses on the functional significance of isolated skeletal elements or complete skeletons that dshould lead to the intepretation of the ecology of the organism. These hypotheses will be discussed and verified collectively. These activities will allow a self-evaluation of the acquistion of concepts by students and will enable the techer to verify the progression of the acquistion of the topics covered in the lessons, and to revise or deal in more depth topics if necessary.
Finally step by step virtual reconstructions of extinct taxa will be shown in order to explain the workflow.

The teacher will receive students for explanation or clarifications of arguments , by appointment via e mail