Spring 2020

Form and Function

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-264  |  Physics and Astronomy, as PHYS-264


Ethan D. Clotfelter (Section 01)
William A. Loinaz (Section 01)


(Offered as BIOL 264 and PHYS 264) Functional morphology is the study of how organisms work. It integrates anatomy and biomechanics in an ecological and evolutionary framework. The course begins with basic principles of evolutionary theory and biomechanics, before turning to the fundamental importance of body size and metabolism in governing nearly all aspects of animal biology. We then focus on locomotion (running, jumping, swimming, gliding, and flying) using examples of both living and extinct animals. We will also discuss morphological adaptations underlying unusual movements such as climbing walls, hovering in midair, and walking on water. Finally, we touch on examples of human innovation inspired by animal morphology. The course uses a combination of lectures and discussions of articles from the primary literature. Three hours of lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite: Students registering for BIOL 264 must have taken BIOL 181. Students registering for PHYS 264 must have taken PHYS 116 or PHYS 123. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 24 students. Spring semester. Professors Clotfelter and Loinaz.

If Overenrolled: Priority given to BIOL and PHYS majors, and based on class year.


Quantitative Reasoning


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Spring 2024