Biology 4490 Syllabus

FALL 2001

Instructor: Dr. Ron Matson
Lecture Room: SC 214
Office: SC 318
Lecture Time: MW 1100-1215
Office Hours: M 0930 - 1030
Office Phone: 770.423.6508
T 0930 - 1030
W 0930 - 1030

TH 1000 - 1100
Others by Appointment





M. 20 Aug.


Chapt. 1

W. 22 Aug.


Chapt. 1, 16 (part)

M. 27 Aug.


Chapt. 2

W. 29 Aug.


Chapt. 3

M. 03 Sept.

NO CLASS W. 05 Sept.

Paleogeology & Paleobotany

Chapts. 2, 15 (part)

M. 10 Sept.

Dinosaur Anatomy

Chapts. 4, 5

W. 12 Sept.

Dinosaur Ancestors

Chapt. 5

M. 17 Sept.


Chapt. 6

W. 19 Sept.


Chapt. 6

M. 24 Sept.

Ornithischia (Thyreophora)

Chapt. 7

W. 26 Sept.

Exam I

M. 01 Oct.


Chapts. 8

W. 03 Oct.

Ornithischia (Marginocephalia)

Chapt. 9

M. 08 Oct.

Ornithischia (Ornithopoda)

Chapt. 10

W. 10 Oct.

Ornithischia (Hadrosauridae)

Chapts. 10

M. 15 Oct.


Chapt. 11

W. 17 Oct.

Saurischia (Sauropods)

Chapt. 11

M. 22 Oct.

Saurischia (Eoraptor)

Chapt. 11

W. 24 Oct

Saurischia (Theropods)

Chapt. 12

M. 29 Oct.

Saurischia (Coelurosaurs)

Chapt. 12

W. 31 Oct.

Saurischia (Dromaeosauridae)

Chapt. 12

M. 05 Nov.

Exam II

W. 07 Nov.

Origins of Birds

Chapt. 13

M. 12 Nov.

Origins of Birds

Chapt. 13

W. 14 Nov.

Origins of Birds

Chapt. 13

M. 19 Nov.

Endothermy vs. Ectothermy

Chapt. 14

M. 26 Nov.

Endothermy vs. Ectothermy

Chapt. 14

W. 28 Nov.


Chapt. 17

M. 03 Dec.


Chapt. 17

W. 05 Dec.


Chapt. 17

W. 12 Dec.

11:00 - 1:00

1 Text: Fastovsky, D. E., and D. B. Weishampel. 1996. The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs. Cambridge University Press . Cambridge.


Biology 4490/02 -- The Biology of the Dinosaurs. This course will examine the evolutionary history of the anon-avian dinosaurs with emphasis on dinosaur systemaics and dinosaur biology. Besides examining phyolgenetic relationships among dinosarus, their relationships to birds an dother taxa will also be explored. Other topics to be discussed include functional morphology, endothermy vs. ectothermy and causes for extinction. Prerequisite: Biology 2017 and Biology 2108.


This course for biology and related majors will examine the history of the non-avian dinosaurs with emphasis on systematics and dinosaur biology. Besides examining the relationships among dinosaurs, their relationships tobirds and other taxa will also be explored. Coverage of each group will include discussion of the characteristics, taxonomy, evolution, paleontology, biogeography and morphological, physiological, ecological and/or behavioral "adaptations." Other topics to be discussed include functional morphology, endothermy vs. ectothermy, and causes for extinction. By the end of the semester, you should be able to identify the major groups of dinosaurs (and some of their relatives) and their evolutionary relationships. This course will also you with a good foundation in evolutionary and systematic as well as an exposure to paleontological methods and testing. You should be able to use dinosaurs as for discussing a number of biological principles.

Please be aware that this syllabus is tentative. There is so to talk about dinosaurs that not everything can be covered. If we decided to spend more time on a topic of interest at the of another, so be it!. Furthermore, dates and point totals are subject to change if there are circumstances, deemed by me, to be extenuating. You will be given verbal notification of any changes in class and/or it will be posted on the Class information link on the course web site (URL:

Attendance: Class attendance is highly encouraged. Much of the material for the lecture exams will be taken from the lecture and so it is in your own interest to attend each lecture. If you miss a lecture, it is your responsibility to obtain lecture notes from a classmate; my notes will not be made available to students. Videos shown in lecture are not available to be loaned to students. You are responsible for any material shown on video in lecture. Make certain to obtain any handouts and assignments as well. I will have extra copies in my office but generally do not bring them to subsequent lectures. If, for any reason, you miss more than one week of lecture you should strongly consider withdrawing from the course. You are encouraged to ask questions during lecture.

Please arrive before the beginning of lecture so as not to disturb your fellow students. DO NOT bring other people (friends, spouses, children etc.) to lectures. Only people enrolled in the class are allowed in the classroom. Turn off all cell phones, pagers etc.

Examinations and Grades: There are two examinations scheduled during the semester along with a final exam. Each exam will cover all material covered in the lectures, readings, videos and other sources since the last exam. You are expected to do the readings and some material from the readings (text, handouts, internet) will be on the exam even if I have not covered it in lecture. I will be using several videos in place of my lecture, so the readings will be "extra important" for those. The final exam will primarily cover material since the last lecture exam but it will also contain material covered since the beginning of the course (i.e., it will be cumulative/comprehensive). Exams may include matching, short answer and/or essay questions, constructing cladograms, as well as identifying taxa or labeling diagrams/photographs. For these questions, you are expected to answer each question clearly, concisely and logically, using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Spelling counts -- Learn to spell scientific names correctly!! You must take all exams on the date offered unless you provide an excuse deemed by me to be satisfactory (e.g., make arrangements in advance, provide a note from a physician, have a note from a funeral home). If an acceptable excuse is provided for either midterm exam, then you will receive the appropriate number of points for the missed exam on a pro-rated basis. The number of pro-rated points received will be based on the mean percent of the points earned from the remaining midterm and final. Pro-rating of exams will not be done retroactively (i.e., you cannot use a pro-rated score to substitute for an exam in which you received a lower score). If you miss an exam without an acceptable excuse, you will receive the grade of 0 (zero) for that exam. You must take the final exam to receive credit for this course; the final grade cannot be pro-rated. Tentative exam dates are given on the course schedule-- please mark your calendars. If an exam has to be canceled because of inclement weather (i.e., if the entire university is closed) it will be given during the next scheduled class period. If there are multiple days of inclement weather, I reserve the right to cancel an exam and adjust the total points for the course accordingly. If I decide to change the point totals for the course, you will be notified verbally and/or via the course web site. If you receive 50% or less of the points on the first exam, please talk to me. Such a score indicates that you are having trouble in this class and you may need to consider withdrawing.

At various times during the semester, "class assignment" will be due. These will involve reading a paper that I will provide, or getting on the Internet, and/or going to the library and finding resources that will allow you to answer questions. You will be expected to read the paper, several questions about it and should be prepared to discuss the paper in class and/or on an exam. Points for these class assignments will be given based on the timely completion of these; your TYPEWRITTEN responses will be due at the date. These assignments and their due dates can be found on the class website (click here).

The grading procedure for this course is as follows:

Exam I
110 pts. (27%)
Exam II
130 pts. (33%)
Final Exam
130 pts. (33%)
30 pts. (07%)
400 pts. (100%)

Your grade for this course will be based on the following point distribution: A = 400-360 points; B = 359-320 points; C = 319-280 points; D =289- 240 points; F =< 239 points. There is no extra-credit." The final grading scale may be adjusted at the discretion of the instructor. If you have any questions about the grading of an exam, please discuss the situation with me immediately after receiving the graded exam. If I decide to regrade an exam, the entire exam will be regraded, not just a specific part. Grades can go up, down or remain the same upon being regraded. Exams or other assignments will not be regraded at the end of the semester. Any material not picked-up by the end of the semester will be discarded within 60 days of the end of the semester. I reserve the right to adjust the point totals for this course if the need arises. You will be notified of such changes in lecture and/or via the Class Information link on the Biology 4490 homepage.

GRADES WILL NOT BE POSTED at the end of the semester. If you want your grades early, bring a stamped, self-addressed envelope or postcard to the final. Or, provide me with your e-mail address.

Academic Honesty: Every KSU student is responsible for upholding the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, as published in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs. Section II of the Student Code of Conduct addresses the University's policy on academic honesty, including provisions regarding plagiarism and cheating, unauthorized access to University materials, misrepresentation/falsification of University records or academic work, malicious removal, retention, or destruction of library materials, malicious/intentional misuse of computer facilities and/or services, and misuse of student identification cards. Incidents of alleged academic misconduct will be handled through the established procedures of the University Judiciary Program, which includes either an "informal" resolution by a faculty member, resulting in a grade adjustment, or a formal hearing procedure, which may subject a student to the Code of Conduct's minimum one semester suspension requirement.

You are expected to follow the regulations as stated on page 207- 214 of the 2001 - 2002 Kennesaw State University Undergraduate Catalog. Plagiarism and cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. This includes copying papers and not providing proper literature citations. Any violations of the Student Conduct Regulations will be handled through the University Court.

Withdrawal Policy: The withdrawal policy as stated on page 42 of the 2000-2001 Kennesaw State University Undergraduate Catalog will be followed; see also the current schedule of classes. For this semester, the last day to withdraw without academic penalty is 19 October 2001. Make certain to follow all procedures if you decide to withdraw; failure to do so will result in your being assigned a grade of  "F" for the course.

Recycling Policy: REDUCE WASTE AND RECYCLE. If possible, please use (purchase) recycled goods. On campus, paper can be recycled in the small blue bins found in the front of each classroom and aluminum cans can be recycled in the big, blue, containers in the hall. Please do not mix waste with the materials to be recycled. It's your planet, your campus, your health and well-being and your economy -- help them all by recycling. See page 325 of the current catalog for the KSU Position Statement on Environmental Awareness.

URL: Copies of this syllabus, along with other material relevant to this course, can be found on the course Homepage. The URL for the course Homepage is:

Click here to find web sites related to this course. You will be required to utilize this web site to obtain some course materials. See me if you have any trouble accessing this or any other web site. There are computers available for your use in the atrium of the Science Building, and in computer labs in the Science Building, Burruss Building, and the Student Center as well as at other locations on campus. I will post messages relating to any changes to this syllabus on this website. You are responsible for any changes posted. Click here to view the class information page.

Office Hours: My office hours are listed on the first page of this syllabus. I encourage you to avail yourself of them.  If you cannot make it to any of these scheduled hours, please make an appointment. I'm certain that we can find a mutually acceptable time to meet. Furthermore, note that my e-mail address is on the top of the first page. Feel free to e-mail me. I will respond as soon as possible.

Your continued presence in this course signifies your acceptance of the policies and procedures outlined in this syllabus.