NNMK15004U Animal Morphology (from Sea Sponges to Vertebrates)

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Biology


In this course we study marine, freshwater, terrestrial animals from the simplest forms to vertebrates. In the classes we integrated laboratory practicals and lectures. We dissect and demonstrate representatives from most animal phyla with emphasis on their morphology, development, and general biology. In the lectures, we put emphasis on topics such as embryology, larval development, life cycles, body skeletons, motility, reproduction, and managing of body functions in general. We emphasize an evolutionary approach, where animal structure and function is seen in the context of both phylogeny and adaptation. You will also get hands on training using modern morphological instruments and learn how to interpret results from videos of live animal and from electron and confocal microcopy. We make much use of the specimens in the Zoological Museum, including show around in the magazines and information on the use of the collections in research and outreach to the public.

Learning Outcome

See Content of the course.


After having participated in the course the student can:

  • describe the variation in body organization and function within the Animal Kingdom
  • give examples on how non-related organs can serve the same function (convergence), and on how the same original structure through evolution can end up serving quite different functions (homology)
  • dissect specimens of most larger animal groups and present arguments for how they should placed in the Animal Kingdom
  • account for aspects of the morphological, fossil and molecular background for current hypotheses concerning animal classification


The student will obtain a broad and detailed knowledge of the diversity of the diversity and evolution of the entire Animal Kingdom from the simplest forms (e.g., sea sponges) to mammals and birds. The course has its basis in classical zoology and at the same time cover the newest research within morphology, systematic and evolution of all important animal groups. The course provides an ideal background for other courses in biology (e.g., ecology and physiology) and is also a useful supporting course for palaeontologists. The course provides a useful basis for many types of professions within biology where basic knowledge about animal biodiversity is required (e.g., marine biology or conservation).

See Absalon.

Open for students with a bachelor in biology and others with a comparable background in zoology.
Lectures and practical exercises
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Lectures
  • 66
  • Practical exercises
  • 50
  • Preparation
  • 89
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20-30 min
No preparation time.
Exam registration requirements

At least 80% participation in lectures, exercises and presentations.

If the exam registration requirements is not fulfilled they can be fulfilled before the re-exam if the student hand in an assignment about the subjects that have been covered in the classes where the student has not participated. The assignment must be approved by the teacher.

Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assesment

In order to achieve the grade 12 the student must be able to demonstrate an excellent fulfillment of the learning outcome described above.