Select Academic Year:     2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020 2020/2021 2021/2022
Second Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[60/57]  BIOLOGY [57/00 - Ord. 2018]  PERCORSO COMUNE 9 76


The aim of the course is to give a picture of the animal life and of principles regulating it, useful for the subsequent university courses but also for applied researches. In particular, during the classes the following aspects will be addressed: 1) principles for the classification, phylogenesis and animal diversity: general characteristics and identification of the main animal groups and ‘animal-like’ unicellular; 2) key concepts and mechanisms of the animal evolution. Through the comparative method, it will be illustrated how the morphological and functional diversity of the animal taxa arose from an evolutionary process, adapting physical, chemical and biological features to the environmental conditions. Moreover, through practical experiences in the laboratory, the students will learn how to classify and recognize the main animal taxa.
Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the students will acquire the fundamental concepts of Zoology, in particular the basic mechanisms of evolution, diversification of the animal taxa, and their taxonomy. They will acquire knowledge of the basic morpho-functional distinctive characteristics of the main animal taxa and of their ecological relationships, useful for their identification. Applying knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the students will acquire practical and methodological skills for the identification and classification of the different animal taxa using comparative morphological analyses of preserved specimens.
Making judgements
Ongoing written tests for the self-evaluation of the comprehension and level of learning of completed didactic units. Aware evaluation of the didactics.
Communication skills
At the end of the course the students will acquire the correct terminology and zoological nomenclature. They will be able to give correct information on the diversity, complexity and unity of the animal life, on the evolutionary adaptations, on the distinctive features of the main animal taxa. They should demonstrate the full comprehension of these concepts through oral and written communication.
Learning skills
Acquisition, through the use of university textbooks, of theoretical knowledge on the evolutionary history and taxonomy of animals, on how to recognize them, to classify them, and to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among animal phyla, necessary for the understanding of the most recent scientific knowledges.


Basic knowledge of: morpho-functional features of animal cells, mitosis and meiosis, eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, animal tissues


The course foresees a theoretical part of frontal lectures (64 hours, 8 CFU) and a practical part of laboratory (12 hours, 1CFU).
The theoretical part includes the following topics:
Phylogeny and the animal diversity (50 hours)
Zoology and the main characteristics of animals (2 hours). Binomial nomenclature and hierarchic classification. The modern systematics of animals, phylogeny and phylogenetic trees, cladistics (4 hours).
Structural plans of the animal body: levels of organization, symmetry, development models, functions of the body cavities; metamerism (2 hours).
Distinctive features, adaptations and phylogeny of the main animal groups: sponges (2 hours), radial animals (4 hours) flatworms (2 hours), mollusks (4 hours), annelids (3 hours), arthropods (8 hours), nematodes (2 hours), echinoderms (4 hours).
Chordates and vertebrates: origin and evolution. Distinctive features of aquatic and land vertebrates (13 hours).
Evolution of the animal diversity (14 hours).
Theories and mechanisms of evolution: Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism, evidences of evolution (4 hours).
Microevolution: evolution of populations. Genetic variability, genetic Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and evolution, natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow (3 hours).
Speciation: origin of species, reproductive barriers, allopatric and sympatric speciation, evolutionary radiation (3 hours).
Macroevolution: evolutionary processes on large scale. Biological mechanisms that determine the development, evolutionary novelties, evolutionary trends. The history of life on Earth: form the origin of life to the multicellular organisms, mass extinctions, rates of evolution, fossil records (4 hours).
Practical exercises will be dedicated to the identification and classification of the main animal taxa through comparative morphological analyses of preserved specimens (12 hours).

Teaching Methods

The course consists of lectures (64 hours), which will be carried out using PowerPoint presentations, and practical exercises in laboratory (12 hours). Due to the COVID emergency, the lectures could be given by teledidactic. During laboratory exercises, the techniques for identifying and classifying animal taxa will be acquired through the use of dichotomic guides and by the analysis of distinctive morphological features using preserved specimen representative of the different animal groups.The acquisition of knowledge and competences will be evaluated using self-evaluation tests during the course

Verification of learning

During the course, the understanding and the level of learning of completed units can be evaluated by written tests with open and / or multiple-choice questions. Evaluations, if positive, will be considered for the scoring of the final exam.
The final exam consists of an interview on the contents of the course, eventually using graphs and schemes. The student must demonstrate competence in dealing with the topics covered during the course, ability to communicate concepts clearly and using an appropriate specialized language, ability to perform, if required, synthesis and / or links between the topics covered in during the course. In addition, a practical test will be performed to identify and classify the animals examined during the laboratory practice. The exam is passed when all questions are adequately answered (with a score of at least 18/30) and the practical identification is correct.
The final grade takes into account several factors:
1. Quality of the knowledge, skills, competences: appropriateness, accuracy and consistency.
2. Communication skills: proper use of the specific language of the discipline, logical skills and inherent consequentiality in communicating, ability to connect different subjects by finding the common points and establish a consistent overall design, to summarize, also through the use of specific symbolism of each discipline and graphic expression of ideas and concepts, for example in form of formulas, schemes, equations.
3. Relational qualities: availability to exchange and interact with the teacher during the interview.
4. Personal qualities: critical thinking, ability of self-evaluation.
Consequently, the judgment can be:
a) Sufficient (from 18 to 20/30)
The student demonstrates little acquisition of theoretical knowledge, superficial level, many gaps. Modest communicative abilities, but still sufficient to support a coherent dialogue, logical capacity and consequentiality in fitting the subjects of elementary level; poor capacity of synthesis and rather stunted ability of graphical expression, scanty interaction with the teacher during the interview.
b) Moderate (21 to 23)
The student demonstrates a moderate acquisition of knowledge but lack of expatiation, a few gaps; communicative abilities more than sufficient to support a coherent dialogue; acceptable mastery of the scientific language, logical capacity and consequentiality in fitting the subjects of moderate complexity, good enough capacity of synthesis and acceptable ability of graphical expression.
c) Good (24 to 26)
The student demonstrates a rather large wealth of knowledge, moderate in-depth, with small gaps; satisfactory mastery of the communicative abilities and meaningful scientific language; dialogical ability and critical thinking well detectable, good capacity of synthesis and more than acceptable ability of graphical expression.
d) Outstanding (27 to 29)
The student demonstrates a very extensive wealth of notions, high in-depth, with marginal gaps; remarkable ability in communicating and high mastery of scientific language; remarkable dialogical capacity, good competence and relevant aptitude for logical synthesis, high capacity of synthesis and graphical expression.
e) Excellent (30)
The student demonstrates a wealth of very extensive and in-depth knowledge, irrelevant gaps, high capacity and high mastery in communicating through the scientific language; excellent dialogical ability and marked aptitude to make connections among different subjects, excellent ability to synthesize and very familiar with the graphical expression.
The praise is attributed to the candidates clearly above average, and whose limits, if any, as a whole are completely irrelevant.


Suggested textbooks:
- Campbell et al. Meccanismi dell'evoluzione e origini della diversità. Pearson.
- Hickman C.P. Jr., Keen S.L., Eiserhour D.J., Larson A., Anson Helen. Zoologia. 2020 McGraw - Hill Education Ed. Diciottesima.

More Information

The PowerPoint slides used during the lectures will not be distributed to the students. For specific topics the teacher can distribute supplementary material with respect to the textbooks. Lecture notes, dichotomic keys and animal classification guides are provided by the teacher during the practical exercises in laboratory. They are available from the teacher at the end of the course, only for consultation, in view of the preparation of the final exam.

Questionnaire and social

Share on: