EZO-31306 Vertebrate Structure and Function


Studiepunten 6.00

One day excursion4
Practical intensively supervised56
Project learning6
Problem-based learning12
Course coordinator(s)A Terlouw
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. JL van Leeuwen
A Terlouw
dr. SWS Gussekloo
dr. ir. D Lentink
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. JL van Leeuwen

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Human and Animal Biology I (EZO-10306)/ Human and Animal Biology II (HAP-20306)


In the lectures, an overview will be given of the origin, evolution, diversity and adaptive radiation of the vertebrates. The course presents material on the macroscopical and microscopical level, using an integrative approach. Basic biomechanics is used to gain insight into the physical constraints on morphology. Specific topics (such as interpretation of the fossil record, comparative morphology at the levels of the organism, organs and tissues) are studied by the students from books and papers. Students discuss these topics in small groups on the basis of a series of questions. The laboratory work (14 half-days) provides a broad overview of the structural biology of the various lineages of vertebrates. The student will be trained to recognize the relationships between structure, function, behavior and environment. In one part (6 half days) major body plans will be studied via dissection. Another part (6 half days) focuses on the microscopical anatomy in relation to functional requirements. Macroscopical and microscopical requirements will be linked. In a third part (3 half days), students will work in small groups on a mini-research project. Each group studies a different aspect of the functional morphology of bird flight, such as wing and muscle design in relation to specific requirements of flight. Each group gives an oral presentation of the results and provides a written report. An excursion will be organized to a museum or zoo (facultative).

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the course the student should be able to: - discuss the hypotheses on the origin of the vertebrates;
- infer evolutionary traits in vertebrates from comparative morphology;
- define and explain fundamental concepts of vertebrate comparative anatomy, function and adaptation;
- describe the (ultra)structure and functions of a range of vertebrate cells, tissues and organ systems and understanding of the application of histology and be aware of the role of specific techniques in current research;
- relate anatomical design and the use of basic biomechanical form analysis;
- demonstrate the ability to identify the morphological features during practical sessions;
- give an oral and written presentation of scientific results and be able to chair a discussion group.


- follow lectures and study the explained material;
- reading chapters of text books and scientific papers;
- discussion of self-study material in small groups, with a chairman and tutor;
- dissection, microscopical observations;
- written and oral presentations;
- carrying out of a small research project.


- performance in discussion groups and weekly tests: 10%;
- performance with practical work (including a test, oral presentation, report): 40%;
- written examination: 50%.


- study instructions;
- study guide for practical work mini-research project;
- Kardong Kenneth V. (2011) Vertebrates, Comparative Anatomy, Function and Evolution 6th edition, McGrawHill;
- Junqueira et al., (most recent edition): Functional histology (is supplied for loan).

Verplicht voor: BBIBiologyBScB: Organismal and Developmental Biology2MO