Category Archives: Courses

Major transitions in human evolution – Advanced Seminar in Palaeobiology

We are pleased to announce:

Major transitions in human evolution – Advanced Seminar in Palaeobiology (54261)
Dates: 4.11.–16.12.
Time: Fridays 12.15-13.45 p.m.
Building/room: Physicum, D112,  Kumpula Campus Number of places: max. 30
Credits: 2-4

This seminar series will focus on the issues concerning human evolution addressed in recently published special paper compilation ( and other relevant papers (including:

Middle Pliocene hominin diversity – An earlier origin for stone tool making: implications for cognitive evolution and the transition to Homo – Morphological variation in Homo erectus and the origins of developmental plasticity – The evolution of body size and shape in the human career – The place of Homo floresiensis in human evolution – Filling the gap: Human cranial remains from Gombore II and the origin of Homo heidelbergensis – The origin and evolution of Homo sapiens – The transition to foraging for dense and predictable resources and its impact on the evolution of modern humans

You can get credit points for each of the following: Seminar presentation (compulsory, 2 credit points); Active participation in 75% of the classes verified by a personal seminar diary (1 credit point); writing an essay (1 credit point). The seminar thus yields a total of 2-4 credit points.

Please sign up for the course at weboodi (course code: 54261).

Laura Säilä & Mikael Fortelius

An international meeting in Spain in April

Hi All,

Yesterday at the club meeting Tuomas reminded us about the 1st International Meeting of Early-Stage Researchers in Palaeontology conference held in Alpuente (Spain) 13-16th April 2016. There is still time to consider if anyone is interested (abstract deadline 31.1. and registration deadline 31.3.).

Here is some more info:


Advanced topics in paleoecology and paleoclimatology

Dear All,

The following course for period 4 of spring semester 2015 can now be found in WedOodi, where students can also register for the course:

54129 – Advanced topics in paleoecology and paleoclimatology

Credits: 4 (2 credits for Paleoclimate section; 2 credits for the Paleoecology section; lectures and practical assignments)

Time: 12.03.2015-21.05.2014, Thursday 14:15-16:00 (NOTE: no class on week 18 and 20)

Locations: C108, Physicum, Kumpula Campus

Paleoecology (8 teaching hours)

Laura Säilä (week 11-12)
Title: Systematic methods in palaeontology and palaeoecology

Indrė Žliobaitė (week 13-14)
Title: Data science in palaeoecology

Paleoclimate (8 teaching hours)

Niina Kuosmanen (week 15-16)
Title: Using microfossils for reconstructing past vegetation and forest fires

Sakari Salonen (week 17 & 19)
Title: Climate reconstructions from fossil proxy data

Paleoclimate and paleoecology (2 teaching hours)

Ferhat Kaya (week 21)

Title: The Influence of Climate Change on Human Evolution.

If you have any queries, please contact Laura Säilä

Natural History of Vertebrates lecture-series 9.9.-14.10.2013

Welcome to the “Natural History of Vertebrates” lecture-series.

– starts on Monday, 9th of September (9.9.2013)
– lectures held in every  Monday and Friday at  10 – 12 in C108 (quota 15 students),
– maximum credits obtainable – 4: 2 credits for exam, 1 credit for essay,
1 cr for presence (70%). Evaluation is based on the exam and/or the essay.

Purpose of this lecture-series is to familiarize student to the 530 million year long vertebrate evolution history and its main events in the light of morphology, adaptations, and evolutionary perspective. Lecture-series second aim is to present numerous fossil vertebrate groups usually ignored in general teaching and in the prevailing scientific thinking. Familiarization with these groups allows open minds to draw interesting parallels with more familiar groups of vertebrates and their evolution.

Preliminary outline of lectures:

09.09. -13:        1. Origin of Vertebrates and Evolution of Jawless Vertebrates.

13.09.-13:         2. Origin and Evolution of Jawed Fishes.

16.09.-13:         3. Transfer to Land – Evolution of Amphibians.

20.09.-13:         4. Farewell to Water – Origin and Early Evolution of Amniotes.

23.09.-13:         5. Seamonsters – The Great Marine Amniotes of Mesozoic and Cenozoic Oceans.

27.09.-13:         6. Scaled Brotherhood – Mesozoic Small Reptiles.

30.09.-13:         7. Dragons of the Land – Evolution of Archosauria.

04.10.-13:         8. Dragons of the Air – Evolution of Flight on Vertebrates.

07.10.-13:         9. Ears, Whiskers and Milk – the Origin and Evolution of Synapsid Amniotes and Mesozoic Mammals.

11.10.-13:         10. Empire Established – Evolution of Therian Mammals from the Late Jurassic to the Present Day.

14.10.-13:         Examination

Course on Mammalian diet evolution 23.9-3.12.2013

Welcome to a course on diet evolution in mammals.

– starts on Tuesday 23.9 12-14.00 in C108 (quota 15 students),

– maximum credits obtainable – 4: 2 credits for exam, 1 credit for essay, 1 cr for presence. Evaluation is based on the exam and/or the essay.

The course will describe the evolution of mammalian diets from early mammals to modern humans, adaptation of their teeth and digestive tracts to environment, and methods studying mammalian diet.

Several lectures will be focused on primate diets (monkeys, apes and early humans), dietary adaptations of early hominines (plant versus meat eaters) and the dietary changes in modern humans.

The first lectures will give an introduction to mammals, their teeth and digestive systems and their adaptation to environment (skull and teeth demonstration of the main features and basic differences among mammals).


Preliminary outline of lectures:

24.9 Lecture 1. Introduction to mammals, osteology

01.10 Lecture 2. Introduction to teeth, origin and morphology

08.10 Lecture 3. Demonstration, skulls, teeth

15.10 Lecture 4. Methods: teeth as proxy to environment: morphology (hypsodonty, crown type), structure (mesowear, microwear, GISWear), chemistry (isotope analysis)

29.10 Lecture 5. Diet and digestive system in mammals

05.11 Lecture 6. Early mammal diets, carnivory and carnivores

12.11 Lecture 7. Evolution of herbivory and herbivores, omnivory

19.11 Lecture 8. Primate diets, monkey, apes, early hominines

26.11 Lecture 9. Early humans’ changing environments, change in human diets over time

03.12 Lecture 10. Human subsistence and evolutionary nutrition (fossil versus modern)


— Diana

New and exciting course: Introduction to Statistical Paleobiology

Introduction to Statistical Paleobiology

Docent Lee Hsiang Liow, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo

This master-level course is given by remote video except for the introductory and concluding lectures, for which Docent Liow will be physically present (in class room C108 in the Department of Geosciences and Geography, Physicum, Kumpula campus). The video lectures will be given in the video conference classroom Exactum A114.

The maximum attendance is 20. Please use Web Oodi to enroll.

Course outline:

Introductory Lecture (Sep 4 2013)
Introduce statistical paleobiology
Aims of course
Outline of lectures and assignments and introduction to first assignment


‐questions we ask in paleobiology
‐ the interconnectivity among biology, paleontology, geology and climate science
‐history of “quantitative paleobiology”
‐important figures
‐why quantification is important
‐what are models and why there are differences between mathematical and statistical models
‐the importance of models (and comparison to hypothesis testing)
‐why bother with confidence intervals (an illustration)

Lecture 1 (9 Sep Oslo)

Estimating extinction‐ singe taxa

Lecture 2 (11 Sep Oslo)

Estimating extinction‐ rates and “events”

Lecture 3 (16 Sep Oslo)

Phenotypic evolution – single lineages

Lecture 4 (18 Sep Oslo)

Phenotypic evolution – clades
Other possibilities: diversification (comparing paleo and phylo)
More CMR (a bit in Lecture 2)

Conclusion Lecture (2 Oct Helsinki)

Writing assignment
Writing a Wikipedia entry for a selected narrow paleobiology theme (non quantitative)

Each lecture will have associated R exercises


Modelling Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence

Dear colleagues,

There will be an international workshop/course on “Modelling Patterns
and Dynamics of Species Occurrence” at Finse Alpine Research Centre
12-17 September 2010. This workshop will cover many of the latest
methods for modelling patterns and dynamics of species occurrence while
accounting for the imperfect detection of the species. These statistical
models have a broad utility in ecology, and applications include for
instance studies of species range or distribution, epidemiology,
modelling of habitat use, meta-population dynamics, community dynamics
and environmental monitoring.

More information and pre-registration is available here:

Please forward this information to students or others that could be
interested in attending this course.

Best regards,

Torbjørn Ergon