Life Sciences

Palaeozoology of Dinosaurs and Megafauna

Module code: C7146
Level 6
15 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Fieldwork, Lecture, Practical
Assessment modes: Coursework

Dinosaurs and other extinct megafauna, from sabre-toothed cats to megalodon sharks, have fascinated most of us since we were children. These animals which dominated the Earth for hundreds of millions of years were incredible for many reasons, and the more we uncover about their palaeobiology the more amazing they turn out to be.

The science of palaeozoology is also a fascinating study in the scientific method, and a useful example of the remarkable insights science can achieve even with only limited material to work with, such as that provided by the fossil record. How can we not only identify animals, but also work out their biology, behaviour and ecology, from only ancient bones and other fossilised material? Guesswork has now been replaced by researchers using a wide range of quantitative techniques to develop a rigorous, detailed understanding of the palaeobiology of animals, making palaeozoology one of the fastest moving fields of scientific research today.

In this module you will learn about the palaeozoology of dinosaurs and other extinct megafauna, from their classification, phylogenetics and evolution, to form and function. You will learn about the scientific evidence behind our understanding of how these animals lived, behaved and interacted with other organisms in their ecosystems, and the techniques, strengths and limitations of the methods that scientists use to study extinct animals.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the biology of a diversity of extinct megafauna
  • Describe and critically evaluate the methods and techniques used in palaeozoology, and the scientific evidence upon which our understanding of palaeozoology is based
  • Synthesise research in palaeozoology
  • Generate hypotheses about the identity, physical appearance, activity and ecology of extinct animals based on fossils