Vertebrate Paleontology practice questions,Exam1

Practice exam questions written by Timothy H. Heaton,
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of South Dakota

Click the circle by an answer with the mouse, then click on the Submit button to get a response. You will be told if your answer is correct or not and will be given some comments.

  1. Define the terms monophyly, polyphyly, holophyly, and paraphyly.

  2. What is the proper order of the periods of the Paleozoic Era?
    Cambrian, Devonian, Ordovician, Silurian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian.
    Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian.
    Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Pennsylvanian, Mississippian, Permian.
    Cambrian, Silurian, Ordovician, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian.
    Cambrian, Silurian, Ordovician, Devonian, Pennsylvanian, Mississippian, Permian.

  3. What is the proper order of the periods of the Mesozoic Era?
    Jurassic, Cretaceous, Triassic.
    Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous.
    Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic.
    Cretaceous, Triassic, Jurassic.
    Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous.

  4. What was the most diverse group of fishes during the Silurian Period?
    Acanthodians.
    Chondrichthyes.
    Osteichthyes.
    Ostracoderms.
    Placoderms.

  5. Match each taxonomic group with the geologic period that it first appeared in or was most diverse in.
    Vertebrate Group Geologic Period
    Amphibians (first appeared).
    Dinosaurs (first appeared).
    Mammals (first appeared).
    Pelycosaurs (most diverse).
    Placoderms (most diverse).
    Reptiles (first appeared).
    Thecodonts (most diverse).
    Therapsids (most diverse).
    Devonian.
    Jurassic.
    Mississippian.
    Pennsylvanian.
    Permian.
    Triassic.

  6. Which group of gnathostome fishes has heavy dermal armor like the ostracoderms?
    Acanthodians.
    Chondrichthyes.
    Osteichthyes.
    Placoderms.

  7. Which order of placoderms includes the largest fishes of their time?
    Order Antiarchi.
    Order Arthrodira.
    Order Phyllolepida.
    Order Ptyctodontida.
    Order Rhenanida.

  8. What is the most diverse group of fishes today?
    Agnathans.
    Actinopterygians.
    Batoids.
    Sarcopterygians.
    Squalomorphs.

  9. Which group of sharks appears first in the fossil record?
    Order Batoidea.
    Order Cladoselachida.
    Order Galeomorpha.
    Order Squalomorpha.
    Order Xenacanthida.

  10. Which group of sharks had spines on the back of their heads?
    Order Batoidea.
    Order Cladoselachida.
    Order Galeomorpha.
    Order Squalomorpha.
    Order Xenacanthida.

  11. Which group of Osteichthyes has a fin structure similar to that of amphibians?
    Chondrosteans.
    Crossopterygians.
    Holosteans.
    Lungfishes.
    Teleosts.

  12. Which group of Osteichthyes is the most diverse today?
    Chondrosteans.
    Crossopterygians.
    Holosteans.
    Lungfishes.
    Teleosts.

  13. Tell what group of fishes the amphibians probably evolved from and outline the evidence supporting this conclusion. Be as specific as possible.

  14. Match each amphibian character with the labyrinthodont group it applies to.
    Character Amphibian Group
    Original amphibians.
    Gave rise to reptiles.
    Most aquatic anthracosaurs.
    Most aquatic temnospondyls.
    Most terrestrial anthracosaurs.
    Most terrestrial temnospondyls.
    Flattest skulls.
    Tallest skulls.
    Intercentrum large and pleurocentrum tiny or missing.
    Intercentrum and pleurocentrum of equal size.
    Pleurocentrum much larger than intercentrum.
    Embolomeres.
    Ichthyostegids.
    Rhachitomes.
    Seymouriamorphs.
    Stereospondyls.

  15. Match each reptile to the type of temporal region its skull possesses.
    Reptile Skull type
    No temporal openings.
    Lower temporal opening only.
    Upper temporal opening only.
    Upper and lower temporal openings.
    Anapsid skull.
    Diapsid skull.
    Euryapsid skull.
    Synapsid skull.

  16. Match each of the following reptiles with the type of skull it possesses (or the type of reptile it evolved from).
    Group Skull type
    Birds.
    Crocodiles.
    Dinosaurs.
    Earliest reptiles.
    Ichthyosaurs.
    Lizards.
    Mammals.
    Pelycosaurs.
    Plesiosaurs.
    Snakes.
    Thecodonts.
    Therapsids.
    Turtles.
    Anapsid skull.
    Diapsid skull.
    Euryapsid skull.
    Synapsid skull.

  17. Match each character with the reptile order it applies to.
    Character Reptile group
    A bird-like pelvis.
    A dual jaw joint in some forms.
    A lizard-like pelvis.
    A predentary bone.
    A sail on the back in some forms.
    A sprawling, lizard-like gait.
    Includes heavily armored animals.
    Includes largest land animals ever.
    Order Ornithischia.
    Order Pelycosauria.
    Order Saurischia.
    Order Thecodontia.
    Order Therapsida.

  18. Draw the pelvis of a saurischian and an ornithischian dinosaur and label the ilium, ischium, and pubis of each.

  19. Match each dinosaur or dinosaur character with the group it belongs or applies to.
    Character or name Dinosaur group
    Largest dinosaurs.
    Most armored dinosaurs.
    Most carnivorous dinosaurs.
    Dome headed dinosaurs.
    Duckbill dinosaurs.
    Frilled dinosaurs.
    Allosaurus.
    Brachiosaurus.
    Deinonychus.
    Iguanodon.
    Stegosaurus.
    Triceratops.
    Tyrannosaurus.
    Ankylosauria.
    Ceratopsia.
    Ornithopoda.
    Pachycephalosauria.
    Sauropoda.
    Stegosauria.
    Theropoda.

  20. In terms of bone histology, are dinosaurs more like modern reptiles or modern mammals?
    Modern mammals.
    Modern reptiles.

  21. In terms of brain size, are dinosaurs more like modern reptiles or modern mammals?
    Modern mammals.
    Modern reptiles.

  22. How do phytosaurs differ from crocodilians?
    Phytosaurs were always smaller.
    Phytosaurs stood much higher on their legs.
    Phytosaurs had more paddle-like feet and smaller tails.
    Phytosaurs were herbivorous rather than carnivorous.
    Phytosaurs had posterior nares near the eyes.

Please report any problems or errors to Dr. Heaton.