Vertebrate Zoology

Course CodeBEN104
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn Vertebrate Zoology

A foundation for anyone who works with animals whether pets, pests, wildlife or livestock

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Vertebrate Taxonomy and Diversity
    • Taxonomic classifications (Kingdom, Phylum, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species).
    • Morphology and Evolution
    • Environmental and Genetic Influences
    • Speciation
    • Diversification
    • Convergence
    • Diet
    • Habits
    • Distribution
    • Terminology
  2. Fishes
    • Fish Diversity (major groups):
    • Class Agnatha (jawless fishes)
    • Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes) and
    • Class Osteichthyes (bony fishes).
  3. Ectotherms
    • Amphibians and Reptiles
    • Definitions, Endothermy, Ectotermic, Tetrapods
    • Class Amphibia
    • Order Anura (Salientia) Frogs and Toads, Salamanders and Newts
    • Order Apoda (Gymnophiona) Caecilians
    • Class Reptilia: Reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles and the extinct Dinosauria)
    • Order Rhynchocephalia - Tuatara
    • Order Chelonia (Testudines) - Turtles, tortoises
    • Order Crocodilia - Crocodilians
    • Order Squamata - Lizards and Snakes
  4. Birds
    • Physiology (Structure) and Anatomy, Feathers, Colour, Legs, Skeletal structure, Muscles, Senses, Behaviour (Flight, Diving, etc), Egg formation, Hatching,
    • Bird Taxonomy
    • Ratitae (flightless) birds
    • Carinatea (flying birds)
    • Water Birds (eg. Grebes, divers, Ducks, geese and swans, Storks, flamingoes and herons, pelicans, gannets and cormorants,)
    • Owls, Eagles, falcons and hawks
    • Chickens, turkeys, game birds and mount birds
    • Rails, coots and cranes,
    • Pigeons and sand grouse,
    • Gulls, auks and plovers,
    • Parrots, parakeets, Hummingbirds, swifts, Woodpeckers, toucans, Kingfishers, bee-eaters and hornbills, Trogonos, quetzals, plumed birds
    • Perching birds such as sparrows, starlings, swallows (Passeriformes),
    • Diving birds, loons, Cuckoos, coucals Nighthawks, whippoorwills, Mousebirds, etc.
  5. Mammals (Mammalia)
    • Overview - Taxonomy
    • Sub class Prototheria (egg laying animals) - echidna and platypus
    • Sub class Metatheria (Marsupials) eg. koala, kangaroo and opossum
    • Sub class Eutheria (Placental masmmals -these include such diverse forms as whales, elephants, shrews, and armadillos, dogs, cats, sheep, cattle and horses. Humans, of course, are also placental mammals).
  6. Marsupials -Subclass Theria
    • kangaroos
    • koalas
    • wombats
    • bandicoots
    • opossums
    • phalangers, etc
    • Marsupials Physiology and locomotion, Reproduction
  7. Grandorders Glires and Insectivora
    • Rodents
    • Rabbits
    • Pikas
    • Hedgehogs
    • Moles
    • Shrews and Tenrecs
    • Taxonomy, structure, Adaptations.
  8. Carnivores
    • dogs
    • wolves
    • bears
    • racoons
    • cats
    • weasels
    • hyenas
    • seals, sea lions and walruses
    • Taxonomy, Physiology, Adaptations,
  9. Hoofed Mammals
    • Ungulata: Includes seven orders
    • Order Artiodactyla. This includes: Hippopotami, Deer, Giraffe, Sheep, Cattle, Antelope, Camelids
    • Order Cetacea. This includes: Dolphins, Porpoises, Whales
    • Order Perissodactyla. This includes: Horses, Rhinoceroses, Tapirs
    • Order Tubulidentata. This includes: Ardvarks
    • Order Hyracoidea. This includes: Hyraxes (or Conies)
    • Order Proboscidea. This includes: Elephants
    • Order Sirenia. This includes: Manatees and Dugongs
  10. Primates and other Archonta.
    • This grandorder is sub divided into four sub orders:
    • Scandentia e.g. Tree Shrews
    • Dermoptera e.g. Flying Lemurs, Colugos
    • Chiroptera. This order comprises the bats.
    • Primates (Or Order Primates and sub order Strepsirhini) e.g. humans, monkeys, apes and lemurs
  11. Problem-Based Learning Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


A BROAD STUDY WITH AN EMPHASIS ON PLACENTAL MAMMALS

This course provides an understanding of all the significant groups of vertebrates, from sharks through birds, reptiles and amphibians to mammals. It does however devote more lessons to mammals than all of the other groups. This is because of the significance that mammals have to man.

Mammals comprise thousands of genera, many of which are extinct; classified into three groups: 

  1. Prototheria – egg laying animals, several species found only in Australia (eg. platypus)
  2. Metatheria – marsupial animals found in Australia and South America (eg. Kangaroo), and
  3. Eutheria – includes the majority of contemporary species (placental mammals) and is distributed in all continents of our planet.

Eutheria or placental mammals are a rather diverse group, with nearly 4000 described species. The placental mammals include such diverse forms as whales, elephants, shrews, and armadillos, dogs, cats, sheep, cattle and horses. Humans, of course, are also placental mammals.