Animal Structure & Function

Instructor: Dr. Rich Palmer

Overview: This course is an introduction to principles underlying how animals are ‘designed’.  Topics to be covered include:  ‘tree thinking’ (how to place animals and their parts into a phyolgenetic context), scaling (mechanical and physiological consequences of body size), an introduction to fluid dynamics (life at low and high Reynold’s number, surface tension, cavitation, particle feeding, waves), an introduction to biomechanics (materials, structures, adhesion, cost-benefit analysis, safety factors).  Examples (drawn primarily from marine invertebrates) of how animals are ‘designed’ will include:  hydrostatic and rigid skeletons, various modes of aquatic locomotion (burrowing, crawling, swimming), vision, bioluminescence and buoyancy.  Laboratory exercises will include hands-on experience to illustrate principles covered in lectures as well as team-projects to study how live marine invertebrates actually work.

Boat Use: You will be given the opportunity to drive boats if you choose to do so. Boat driving is recommended but not required for the BMSC Fall Program. Students who wish to drive boats at BMSC must hold a PCOC and valid first aid certificate and will participate in an introductory boat check-out on the first day of orientation.

Students say:

“Although weather conditions don’t normally allow for field trips, the course made up for the lack of by having excellent labs. The labs were not only applicable to the lectures and helpful in understanding them, but incredibly fun as well. The number and time of the lectures was appropriate, and were very easy to understand, even when the topics were complex.”

“I appreciated that this course was not something like a ‘survey’ of animals in which we learned about tons of different phylas of animals. I thought the material covered in this course was really valuable because it forced us to think critically and could be applied to many animals, and some concepts could even be applied to other areas (i.e. general mechanics, building structures).”