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Admission requirements

This course is for MSc students in Biology.

Contact information

Coordinator: Dr. L.W. van den Hoek-Ostende
Email: lars.vandenhoekostende@naturalis.nl


The biodiversity of extant organisms is a result of millions of years of evolution, documented in the fossil record. In this course an overview of paleobiology, the science studying fossils, and its importance for biology will be given. The origin of life and its evolution will be seen in context of geological processes forming sediments preserving fossils, changes of the environment and the geography on earth. Taphonomic processes restricting the fossil record and difficulties interpreting earliest records of life will be discussed. The evolution of organisms in deep time and characteristic fossils will be studied in examples and paleobiological techniques taught. A major emphasis is on vertebrate paleontology with hands-on experience.

Learning goals

Course objectives:

  • Overview on the evolution and origin of life.

  • Importance of paleobiology for biology.

  • Methods of paleobiology research.

  • Vertebrate paleontology.

Final qualifications:
Overview of paleobiological topics and methods


From 9 April to 20 April 2018, except for Wednesday afternoons.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and practicals

Assessment method

The course will be assessed by an written exam (2/3) in combination with a report (1/3)


Blackboard will be used for communication

Reading list



Via USIS and enroll in Blackboard

Exchange and Study Abroad students please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.