University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Emergence of Life

Taught in English

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17,848 already enrolled

Course

Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

4.2

(100 reviews)

Beginner level
No prior experience required
44 hours to complete
3 weeks at 14 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

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Assessments

17 quizzes

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There are 9 modules in this course

In this module, you will become familiar with the course, your instructor, your classmates, and our learning environment.

What's included

2 videos8 readings1 quiz1 plugin

The week begins with a discussion of the historical and philosophical approaches that have been developed for the completion of scientific research, with the work of Professor Carl Woese evaluated as an example. The basic tools required for this type of scientific reasoning and the ability to overcome the challenging concepts of scale and complexity are then presented. Finally, we'll explore the dynamic formation of the Earth itself with respect to the environmental conditions present on the earliest and most ancient version of planet Earth.

What's included

9 videos1 reading2 quizzes1 discussion prompt

The advent of life on Earth came about as a result of a remarkable confluence of physical, chemical, and biological processes, all of which were intrinsically linked to rapidly changing early Earth environments. Within this context, cutting-edge approaches in molecular phylogeny by Professor Carl Woese revealed new understandings of the emergence of life and the possible distribution of life within the cosmos. All this and more will be explored in this week's lessons!

What's included

10 videos3 readings2 quizzes2 peer reviews1 discussion prompt

This week, you'll explore how scientists interpret ancient fossilized life, which yields remarkably detailed and complete reconstructions of the lifestyles of ancient organisms that have been deceased for hundreds, thousands, millions, and even billions of years. These reconstructions provide valuable information regarding the evolutionary success of organism morphology and lifestyle.

What's included

7 videos1 reading2 quizzes1 peer review1 discussion prompt

This week, you'll learn more about the Cambrian Explosion, which led to the development of external hard skeleton components at 542 million years before present. The initial successes of the invertebrates were shortly followed by the appearance of vertebrates with internal skeletons. Life then utilized these newfound evolutionary capabilities, beginning distinct cycles of radiation, diversification, and extinction, which define the three great Eukarya faunas of the Phanerozoic.

What's included

10 videos2 readings2 quizzes2 peer reviews1 discussion prompt

In the early Paleozoic, plants evolved to leave the water and invade the terrestrial landscape. Following this transition, vertebrates emerged into land-based ecosystems, and Carbon Dioxide concentrations increased in the atmosphere. The greenhouse warming of the Earth propelled the success of both prevascular and vascular plants, as well as the related terrestrial radiation of the three lineages of the reptiles. This week, you'll also learn about the Permian-Triassic mass extinction and later environmental changes that opened the door to the rise of the diapsids.

What's included

7 videos1 reading2 quizzes1 peer review1 discussion prompt

This week, you'll learn more about the Permian-Triassic extinction event, which caused more than 80% of life to go extinct. This opened vast swaths of ecological opportunity for radiation and diversification of life during the Mesozoic. You'll learn about symbiosis, which was widely utilized during this period, as well as the fascinating lineage of diapsid reptiles that rose to replace the synapsid predators of the late Paleozoic. We'll also discuss the rise of the dinosaurs, as well as the catastrophic meteor impact that drove the dinosaurs to extinction.

What's included

8 videos2 readings2 quizzes2 peer reviews1 discussion prompt

With the demise of the dinosaurs, mammals rapidly radiated and diversified during the Cenozoic. The combination of abundant food sources and significant fluctuations in global climate fostered extreme variations in morphology, body size, and interaction with the environment. You'll learn why mammals had a distinct advantage over previous groups, and you'll also have the opportunity to explore multiple theories on primate and hominoid evolution in the context of global conditions during this period.

What's included

10 videos1 reading2 quizzes1 peer review1 discussion prompt

No matter where you are or what you believe, sometime in your life you will look up into the sky and ask: What is out there? Where are we going? Is there life elsewhere in the universe? This course is dedicated to searching for answers to these questions. The fundamental concepts of life and habitable environments, established upon the modern synthesis of the Tree of Life, will direct us in recognizing biospheres that might be quite different from our own. In the last week of this course, we will look in detail at what the future has in store for space exploration and the search for life in the cosmos.

What's included

11 videos1 reading2 quizzes1 discussion prompt1 plugin

Instructor

Instructor ratings
4.3 (8 ratings)
Bruce W. Fouke, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1 Course17,848 learners

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