• Semester Offered: Spring


Genetics (447:380) or Genetic Analysis (447:384).  Developmental Genetics (447:370) recommended.

Course Description

Evolutionary origins of the vertebrate body plan are major problems in biology. While paleontology and comparative anatomy have revealed the evolutionary trajectories of the organs, recent genetics, genomics and developmental biology are becoming powerful tools to answer classical questions. The goals of this course are twofold; 1) obtain fundamental knowledge of anatomy, development, and the latest genomics and 2) learn how to integrate genetics, genomics and developmental biology to answer evolutionary questions through discussion during the course. The training to discover and answer scientific questions in animal diversity will be performed at the American Museum of Natural History. This courses is conducted in person (no online option).

The main goals of the course is:

  • Understand the concept of comparative anatomy and the evolutionary history of vertebrate body.
  • Understand the evolutionary mechanisms of vertebrate body in the light of genetics and genomics.
  • Study state-of-the-art genomics to answer evolutionary questions.
  • Learn how to integrate genomics, genetics, and developmental biology to reveal evolutionary. mechanisms.
  • Learn how to discover scientific problems from vertebrate morphology on sites.
  • Learn how to discuss and approach scientific questions.

Course Syllabus

Spring 2023 Syllabus

Course Satisfies Departmental Learning Goals

  1. Knowledge specific goals:
    • Know the terms, concepts and theories in genetics.
    • Study basic concepts and terminology of comparative anatomy, developmental biology, and evolutionary genomics.
  1.  Integrate the material from multiple courses and research. That is, to think holistically and to see the whole as well as the parts.
    • Learn how to integrate genomics, genetics, and developmental biology to understand vertebrate evolution.
    • Discuss methods to approach evolutionary problems based on published scientific papers.

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy

Daily mini-quiz and 3 exams. Pre-reading of textbooks and scientific articles before each class is necessary.

Grading Policy

20% for Pre-Class Reading – Quizzes

20% Attendance

15% for AMNH Field Trip Presentation* (Alternative assignment should be arranged in advance with the instructor if a student cannot attend the AMNH trip)

15% for Exam I

15% for Exam II

15% for Final Exam

Course Materials


Vertebrates: Comparative Anatomy, Function, Evolution. 7th Edition by Kenneth Kardong    

ISBN-13: 978-1259700910

Recommended (but not required)

Developmental Biology. 11th Edition by Scott F. Gilbert and Michael J.F. Barresi

ISBN-13: 978-0878939787

The copy of this textbook will be uploaded on Canvas before lectures, if necessary. 

Other scientific articles that explain evolutionary genomics will be provided via Canvas.

Required device for attendance and mini-quiz

iClicker Cloud will be used to check attendance and conduct mini-quiz. Students install an app to mobile device or use a device “iClicker”, which can be purchased at the Rutgers Bookstore. Find more info here; https://canvas.rutgers.edu/external-apps/iclicker/.

Course Closed?

There is no wait list for this course. Please continue to monitor WebReg for openings.


Dr. Tetsuya Nakamura