Paleontology and Evolution


Intended learning outcomes of the curricular unit:

- to acquire knowledge of evolution, to understand their mechanisms and to apply in paleontology and taxonomy.

- to understand the concepts of evolution and the mechanisms of natural selection.

-to applying evolutionary concepts and to understanding evolutionary strategies of species or group studies.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Octávio João Madeira Mateus


Weekly - 3

Total - 43

Teaching language



Basic knowledge in natural sciences.


Prothero, Donald R. 2007 – Evolution: What the fossils Say and Why it Matters. Columbia University Press.

Levinton, J.S. 2001. Genetics, Paleontology, and Macroevolution. Cambridge Univ.

Bell, G. 2008. Selection - The Mechanism of Evolution. Oxford University Press.

Darwin, C. 1809. A Origem das Espécies. Publicações Europa-América (ou outra)

Gaspar, A., Avelar, T. & Mateus, O, Almada, F. 2007. Evolução e Criacionismo: Uma Relação Impossível. Quasi ed. ISBN: 9789895523078

Teaching method

Classical didactics through content presentation by the teacher. interspersed with exercise performed by the students.

Evaluation method

Final grade (100%) results from:

1) Tests in Moodle (45%), online and asynchronous form
2) Work (Video or equivalent) (45%)
3) Evaluate peers (5%)
4) Participation in classes (5%)

See deadlines, details and access to tests on Moodle:

Subject matter


1. Evolution

1.1. Fundamentals concepts of evolution

1.2. Species and speciation

1.3. Types of evolution

1.4. Fundamentals concepts of molecular evolution,

1.5. Natural Selection and adaptation

2. The Evolution of Evolution

2.1. Before Darwin; the evolution of Darwin; Neo-Darwinian evolutionary Synthesis.

2.2. Microevolution, Macroevolution and Evo-Devo

2.3. The evidence of evolution

3. Methods of studying evolution and taxonomy

3.1. Phylogeny and Cladistics

3.2. Morphometry

3.3 Taxonomy

3.4. Tools for the study of evolution. Software of Cladistics

4. Evolution and diversity.

4.1. The diversity as a by-product of evolution.

4.2. Origins, extinctions and diversifications

5. The problematic of evolution in Palaeontology


These topics are given through seven modules:

  1. Introduction / Inspiration: Fascinating fossils: contributions from paleontology and paleobiology to the knowledge of evolution
  2. History, observations and legacy of Charles Darwin
  3. Evolution Mechanisms and Processes
  4. Our evolution. Historical legacy in the evolution of the human body. Our body as a result of evolution.
  5. Evolutionary concepts applied in systematics, taxonomy, nomenclature and classification
  6. Paleobiodiversity
  7. debate and argumentation


Programs where the course is taught: