We started the Paleontology module from a broad perspective, making sure to cover a brief history of life on earth as well as the history of evolutionary theory, including the work of such academic greats as Mayr, Simpson, and Dobzhansky. With such a solid base under our belts, we can now start learning mammalian anatomy!
To be able to interpret fossil animal skeletons, it is helpful to begin with their modern descendants. We began the day with a classroom session, learning the proper terminology and understanding anatomical position.
We spent the last two afternoons in the lab. The first day we focused on the different bones in the mammalian body and how to distinguish these bones of different kinds of animals. The second day we focused on differences in functional morphology.
One of the most amazing aspects about learning paleontology at TBI is that, in addition to their vast fossil archives, there are a plethora of mammalian skeletons available for students to study! Thus, for our hands-on learning, we had a wide range of different mammalian specimen, including hyena, gerenuk, dik-dik, black-banded jackal, donkey, a juvenile baboon, and more!