Friday, 8 January 2010

S366: Evolution - first steps.

Well two things have happened since the original S366 materials arrived.
I've started working through the course, which involves quite a lot of cladograms and phylogenies. Making by hand, by computer and so on.

I find the course difficult to get to grips with in some ways, but this is mostly the way it is constructed. There is the very solid book Evolution by Futuyma, at 540 odd pages, but then there is the commentary on it written by the course team at over 300 pages that directs you which pages to read. So its read 2 pages of the course guide, which tells you to read 4 pages of Futuyma, and then run a program to generate a cladogram, or maybe watch a DVD.

I like to get stuck into the reading and absorb stuff, but the chopping and changing of books I find a bit disruptive. I mean they are big and heavy enough you can't just balance them somewhere while you flip to a page in the other. So I'm running a 3 bookmark system - one the place in the course guide where I'm at, another in Futuyma and another at the back of the course guide where the answers to the inline questions are.
The second was the exciting arrival of the practical kit. This comprises of a lot of fossils casts and some vernier callipers to allow you to measure them.

That at least looks fun. Though I suspect when it comes down to it, there will be a fair bit of tedious work involved.

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