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Animal Diversity - Vertebrates

Vertebrates – fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals make up over 60 000 living species distributed globally. This is a course for all biologists. With the evolutionary tree as a backbone, you will examine the evolution and characteristics of vertebrates from fishlike animals 300 million years ago to the present diversity.

This is an advanced full-time course dedicated to the diversity and evolution of vertebrates, a.k.a craniates. It can be taken as a standalone course or as a component of the NABIS Master programme. The course language is English. The course covers all aspects of vertebrate phylogeny and evolution, starting with early chordates, and proceeding with information from both fossils and extant taxa, emphasizing character evolution along the phylogenetic tree, exploring the diversification expressed in all the other fish, the reptiles and amphibians, the birds and the mammals, and everything in between. In the end you will be confident to navigate up and down the phylogenetic tree and recognize vertebrate taxa.

  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    Animal Diversity — Vertebrates is an on-line only course based on the Athena platform. E-techs are distributed as texts and PowerPoints covering specific moments. Teachers give regular presentations by ZOOM or chats in Athena. Students are assigned with a compulsory short essay capturing the main points of the course. Attendance to teacher presentations is compulsory.

    Learning outcomes

    A list of the learning outcomes can be found in the syllabus. Please find the link to the syllabus on the right side of this page.


    Examination for the course takes place through written examinations.


    Daniela Kalthoff


  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    No mandatory course book.

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor for advanced level