Fall 2014

Seminar in Morphology: Animal Form and Function

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-464


Ethan D. Clotfelter (Section 01)


How does a bird fly? How does a fish breathe under water? How does a cat jump?  These are everyday phenomena, yet we rarely think about their underlying mechanics.  The more we look at the dizzying array of body shapes and physiological systems in the animal kingdom, the more questions come to mind.  How does a butterfly stay dry in the rain?  How does a gecko walk up walls?  Why don’t snakes die from their own venom?  This seminar course takes an integrative approach, drawing from the primary literature in comparative physiology, biomechanics, and functional morphology.  We begin by reviewing concepts in evolutionary biology and physics before moving on to consider the means by which animals move, maintain homeostasis, capture prey, avoid predators, and reproduce.  We will also discuss biomimetics, a field that draws inspiration from biological systems to improve the design of materials from computer displays to ship hulls.  Three hours per week.

Requisites: BIOL 181 (or equivalent) and at least one of the following: BIOL 211, BIOL 220, BIOL 230, BIOL 260, BIOL 280/281, or BIOL 320/321. PHYS 116 is recommended but not required.  Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Clotfelter.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to Biology majors and according to class year (e.g. seniors first).


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014