Vertebrate Paleontology


Main objectives:

-to acquire advanced knowledge of paleontology and evolution of vertebrates, with emphasis on fish, reptiles, and mammals, including general competences under i) anatomy and osteology, ii) classification, systematics and taxonomy, iii) procedures and mechanisms of evolution .

Specific objectives:

- to acquire knowledge on the origin and evolution of the major vertebrate groups.

- to be able to understand and discuss concepts about vertebrate paleontology.

- to acquire knowledge about the vertebrate groups most common in Portugal: fish, crocodylomorphs, dinosaurs, and mammals.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Octávio João Madeira Mateus


Weekly - 3

Total - 28

Teaching language



Available soon


M. Telles ANTUNES & A. C. BALBINO (2010) – “Fósseis de Portugal”/ PALEONTOLOGIA. Editora Interciência, Rio de Janeiro, 3ª Edição, vol. 1, Cap. 32, pp. 633-657.Editor: Ismar de Souza Carvalho). PALEONTOLOGIA. Ed. Interciência.

M. J. Benton. 2004 Vertebrate Palaeontology, 3d ed., Blackwell, Oxford.

Carroll, R. L. (1988). Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company. pp. 1–698. ISBN 0-7167-1822-7.

Nesbitt, S.J. 2011. The Early Evolution of Archosaurs: Relationships and the Origin of Major Clades. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 352:1-292.

M. J. Benton (ed.), The Phylogeny and Classification of the Tetrapods, vol.1: Amphibians, Reptiles and Birds, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1988

Romer, A. S. (1956). Osteology of Reptiles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 772. ISBN 089464985X.

Teaching method

Available soon

Evaluation method

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Subject matter

Vertebrate Palaeontology: Vertebrate origins, evolution, systematics and characterization of the major vertebrate groups. Agnathans and fishes (Class Placodermi, Class Acanthodii, Class Chondrichthyes); Tetrapods and Amphibians; Reptiles (i) Archosaurs (dinosaurs, birds, crocodiles and pterosaurs) (ii) Mosasaurs (iii) Plesiosaurs; Mammals; Primates and hominids

Comparative Anatomy: skeleton, teeth, non-skeletal organs. 

Transition environments, examples and key adaptations: Conquest of the land environment, secondary aquatic adaptations, origin of active flight.


Programs where the course is taught: