Michael A. Bell

E-mail Address: Phone: 516-632-8574

When Offered:

Spring semester, annually. Chordate Zoology is a general introduction to the biology of the chordates. Introductory biology (BIO 151 and 152) are prerequisites. Lectures concern their interrelationships, diversity, morphology, life history, behavior, ecology, evolution, and paleontology. The laboratory introduces the chordate body plan, provides experience in dissection, and develops familiarity with anatomical terminology.


will be assigned from two books, which may be purchased at Stony Books, near the train station on 25A:

Lecture: F. H. Pough, J. B. Heiser, and W. N. McFarland. 1996. Vertebrate Life, 4th ed. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, xv+ 904 p.

Laboratory: Walker, W. F., Jr. Vertebrate Dissection, 7th ed. Saunders College Publ., Philadelphia, xii + 391 p.

A set of printed assignments for use with the laboratory manual is on sale in the campus book store.


are Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:30 to 1:00 in Life Sciences 023 (basement). Please visit my office unannounced during office hours, make an appointment after class or by phone (632-8574), or just call when you want to visit. You may drop in unannounced at other times, but I may be unable to see you. I enjoy talking to students, and you are entitled to talk to faculty members.


The lab involves dissection, lab demonstrations, and examination of preserved specimens. It meets once per week for three hours. You will work mostly in pairs on dissections and should alternate in dissection and reading instructions while your partner takes a turn dissecting. You must read appropriate sections of the lab manual before the lab meeting. You will probably need to work extra time in lab during TA office hours to complete some dissections and to prepare for quizzes. The lab will be kept open extra hours (to be announced) for these purposes. If you feel that you cannot spend this time in lab, you should drop the course. Also, select a lab partner with a schedule that is compatible with yours so you can meet to finish incomplete exercises or to study together. Labs will begin to meet the week of January 29. Roll will be taken twice: once in lecture and in the first lab meeting. Registered students who fail to attend meetings will be assumed to have dropped the course.


(see lecture schedule) should be done by the beginning of the week in which it is listed. Adherence to the reading schedule will help give you the vocabulary and background to comprehend the lectures.


Grades will be based on 950 points. Lecture Grade, 600 points, distributed as follows:

The lecture examinations will be based on information presented in all prior lectures (except the immediate preceding one) and reading assigned for the period since the previous examination. Thus, the first midterm, for example, will cover lecture and reading material through Thursday, February 8. The second midterm and final exam will emphasize lecture and reading material covered since the lecture preceding the previous midterm but will include review questions on lecture material (not reading). There will be relatively few reading questions (10-20 % of points), and they will be very general so that a single attentive reading of the text should suffice to answer them. The midterms will be designed to take about an hour, and answers will be written directly on the test sheets. Most questions will require a few words or sentences. Examples of previous examinations will be placed on reserve in the Biology Library.

All lecture midterms will be graded by the lab TAs, each of whom will grade a set of questions on all papers. Your test will be returned in the second lecture after the exam. When you receive it, first check addition of the score. Next check the grading key, which will be posted outside my office and on reserve in the Biology Library. If you do not understand your grade on a question, see the grader of that question (not necessarily your lab TA), whose name will be on the grading key.

If you expect to miss an exam, give me advanced notice. If advanced notice is impossible, contact me as soon as possible after the exam. If no valid excuse (preferably written) for absence is provided, a grade of zero will be assigned for the midterm. If a valid excuse is provided, a makeup test may be arranged or a score will be assigned for that midterm based on your performance on remaining lecture exams, at my discretion. You must take the final exam and at least one midterm to receive credit for the course. No one will be permitted to take the final or midterms early. Students who miss the final exam without an excuse will be assigned a grade of F in the course.

Laboratory Grade, 250 points.

The lab grade is based on four quizzes and the TA evaluation score:

There will be at least four laboratory quizzes, but additional announced or unannounced quizzes may be given if the TA believes students are not prepared for lab exercises. No lab grades will be dropped in the final computation of course grades. Emphasis will be placed on work completed since the previous quiz, but quizzes may include questions on the reading assigned for that week's work, and there may also be review questions from previous lab exercises. Procedures for lecture exams apply to lab quizzes, except that problems should be resolved with the lab TA. The format, content, and scheduling of the lab quizzes will be determined by the lab TA.

Papers, 100 points

. There will be two short papers: (1) a natural history paper on a single chordate species of your choice (60 pt; due Th, 3/7), and (2) a morphology paper describing a structure from the laboratory (40 pt; due Th, 4/25). The papers will be read by the TAs. More information on the papers will be provided soon.

You must select the topics for the papers in advance, as indicated in the schedule on the first page of this syllabus. The common and scientific names of the species for the first paper on the natural history must be given to Mike Bell in lecture by Thursday, February 8. Only one paper per species will be permitted, and the number of papers per taxonomic group may be limited. A structure for the morphology paper must be approved by your laboratory teaching assistant by Tuesday April 16.


The two papers from BIO344 may be submitted as a set by Biology Majors to meet the "Upper-Division Writing Requirement" for the major (see 1991/93 Undergraduate Bulletin, p. 55). Forms and information are available in the Undergraduate Biology office, Old Chemistry Building, room 140.


. The course grade will be computed by adding all lab, paper, and lecture scores listed above. The average grade in this course is usually a middle C (2.4, A = 4.0). However, the grade distribution (including +/-) and average grade depend on the point distribution.


If you have a physical, psychiatric, emotional, medical or learning disability that may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work, I would urge that you contact the staff in the Disabled Student Services office (DSS), Humanities Building room 133 (632-6748/TDD. DSS will review your concerns and determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation of disability are confidential.


Any effort to circumvent the evaluation mechanisms of the course to improve a grade for yourself or another student is academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to unauthorized examination of written materials (e.g., neighbors' papers, notes on your hand) during examinations, plagiarism (see below), misrepresentation of the cause of an absence from lab or during an examination, and theft of laboratory materials. Theft of laboratory materials gives the thief an unfair advantage on lab quizzes and imposes a significant, unnecessary cost on the University. Please report academic dishonesty to me, and anonymity will be protected if requested. If I believe academic dishonesty has occurred, I will submit an accusation with supporting evidence to the Academic Judiciary Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences with the recommendation of F in the course. Accused students will be informed after the report has been submitted. Last year I made ten accusations against nine students. Six students received F grades and three were given zeros on plagiarized papers, typically reducing their grades in the course by one letter. There are no mitigating circumstances for academic dishonesty.

Plagiarism is the misrepresentation of another person's writing as one's own. You are responsible for understanding what plagiarism is; if you are unsure, seek advice from Mike Bell. Plagiarism includes photocopying or changing the name on another student's paper. It also includes incorporating from published or unpublished sources one or more sentences, whether they are intact or slightly modified, whether the sentences are consecutive or scattered among sentences you have written your self. It even includes using pieces of sentences written by other authors in your paper. The point of prohibiting plagiarism is that you are expected to learn about a topic and then write your own paper based on what you learned. If I can prove that plagiarized on any of the course papers, I will report it to the Academic Judiciary Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences, and recommend that a grade of F in the course be asssigned18.

While I take a very dim view of cheating, some collaboration is encouraged: (1) preparation for examinations, (2) performance of laboratory exercises, and (3) criticism (not rewriting) of the form (including proofreading) and content of papers. If you prepare for exams with another student, do not sit near her/him during the exam because students who studied together sometimes give strikingly similar incorrect answers, raising the suspicion of cheating. Innocence is easily verified if students with similar incorrect answers sit far apart during the test.


I sometimes misspeak, I am sometimes unclear, and sometimes I present information that is simply difficult or too compressed. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification during a lecture. Such questions both insure that unclear points are clarified and provide me with feedback on the clarity of my lectures for students. (If I seem displeased by your question, you may tell me to stop being crabby!)


I depend on student feedback to insure that TAs are performing well. I assume that everything is in order unless I receive feedback from students. I will take complaints in confidence, but it may be difficult to act on them without the TA inferring the identity of the student.


If you want a letter of reference, you must ask your lab TA if she/he will write a report to me. If the TA agrees to recommend you, she/he will write the report, which I will consider and decide whether to write the letter. This procedure is needed because I do not get to know most students well enough to write an informed letter without the TA's advice. However, even if the TA writes a report to me, I occasionally decide that it is too uninformative or weak to allow me to write a compelling letter of reference in your behalf. I prefer not to write uninformative and unfavorable letters because they deprive students of the opportunity to get a more positive letter from another referee. If the TA recommends you to me, you should visit me after class or in my office and tell me your name and that you have requested a letter of reference. Often I remember something useful to say about a face in the class that I cannot otherwise match with a name.

If you use an institutional reference form, your TA's report to me must be on a copy of the form. Thus, the following procedure must be followed: Fill in spaces (type or print neatly) for the following information on both sides of the form:

Also be sure to sign the waiver section concerning your right to see the form after it has been submitted, regardless of whether or not you choose to waive this right. When the form is filled out, give the original and copy to your lab TA who will fill out the copy and give it and the original to me. Provide a stamped addressed envelope with my name and my return address only for letters to be mailed off campus. If you use a form another institution, make extra copies before filling it out in case I decline to submit it. I will not submit reference forms for students who have not followed these instructions. Check with me after the semester in person or by phone to determine whether I submitted your letter, and with the recipient institution to determine whether it arrived.


Week1 Topic2 Reading3

1 (1/23) Introduction, Assumptions; Evolution Systematics

2 (1/30) Continental drift; Geological time; inner front cover Fossils; Ontogeny & phylogeny

3 (2/6) Deuterostomes and non-vertebrate chordates 2, 5 Select species for natural history paper (Submit to Bell by Th, 2/8)

4 (2/13) Non-vertebrate chordates; Chordate ontogeny & 6 egg types; Agnatha; Midterm I (Th, 2/15)

5 (2/20) Extant agnaths; Evolution of jaws and 7 (191-95), fins; Acanthodians (Lab Quiz 1) 8 (242-47)

6 (2/27) Placoderms; Elasmobranchs 7

7 (3/5) Osteichthyes; Natural history paper due 8, 9 Th, 3/7)

8 (3/12) Osteichthyes; Invasion of land; Lissamphibia; 10 (282-299), 11 (Lab Quiz 2)

9 (3/19) Lissamphibia; Amniote egg and placenta 10 (299-308), 21 (671-75)

10(3/26) Amniote systematics; Middle ear; Midterm II 19 (607) (Tu, 3/26)

11 (4/2) Spring Recess (no lectures or laboratories)

12 (4/9) Mesozoic reptiles; Endothermy; 13, 14, K/T extinction; Modern reptiles 16 (516-19)

13(4/16) Modern reptiles; Mammals; (Lab Quiz 3, Select 12, 15, 19, structure for morpholohy paper, see TA 20, 21 in lab)

14(4/23) Mammals; Birds; Morphology paper due Th 4/25 13 (405-411), 17, 18(553-57)

15(4/30) Birds (Lab Quiz 4)

(5/8) Final Examination (W 3:30-6:30 pm)


1Date in parentheses is the date on Tuesday of the week. 2Items in bold are examinations or deadlines and due dates for papers.

3Numbers are chapters (pages are chapter sections to be read) in Pough et al. (1996).