Clade Animalia Evolution
Students will be able to discuss the broad patterns of the evolution of the clade Animalia, emphasizing the relationships among major sub-clades (phyla), the unique biological attributes that define these clades, and the novel changes in morphology over major transitions (unicellular to multicellular; acoelomate to pseudocoelomate to coelomate body plans, bilaterial vs radial symmetry, origins of exoskeletons, gill slits, notochord, crania & vertebral columns, etc.).
Students will develop the skills necessary to understand the terminology of phylogenetic systematics and methods used to recover the "tree of life", the logic behind the hierarchy (i.e., the only possible outcome of the process of "descent with modification"), and critically apply evolutionary reasoning, including the use of phylogeny and tree-thinking, to formulate and test hypotheses that explain biological diversity.
Students will have the intellectual tools to continue to explore related topics with confidence and understanding throughout their lives, and a deeper appreciation for the diversity of life on earth.