Emergence of Life

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About this course: How did life emerge on Earth? How have life and Earth co-evolved through geological time? Is life elsewhere in the universe? Take a look through the 4-billion-year history of life on Earth through the lens of the modern Tree of Life! This course will evaluate the entire history of life on Earth within the context of our cutting-edge understanding of the Tree of Life. This includes the pioneering work of Professor Carl Woese on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus which revolutionized our understanding with a new "Tree of Life." Other themes include: -Reconnaissance of ancient primordial life before the first cell evolved -The entire ~4-billion-year devel…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: How did life emerge on Earth? How have life and Earth co-evolved through geological time? Is life elsewhere in the universe? Take a look through the 4-billion-year history of life on Earth through the lens of the modern Tree of Life! This course will evaluate the entire history of life on Earth within the context of our cutting-edge understanding of the Tree of Life. This includes the pioneering work of Professor Carl Woese on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus which revolutionized our understanding with a new "Tree of Life." Other themes include: -Reconnaissance of ancient primordial life before the first cell evolved -The entire ~4-billion-year development of single- and multi-celled life through the lens of the Tree of Life -The influence of Earth system processes (meteor impacts, volcanoes, ice sheets) on shaping and structuring the Tree of Life This synthesis emphasizes the universality of the emergence of life as a prelude for the search for extraterrestrial life.

Who is this class for: No specific background is required. You do need an open mind and an eagerness to apply critical free thought and approaches of scientific inquiry. This will enable you to explore how life on Earth came to be in its current form and whether there is life elsewhere in the cosmos.

Created by:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Taught by:  Bruce W. Fouke, Ph.D., Director of the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center

    Department of Geology, Department of Microbiology, and Institute for Genomic Biology
Level Beginner Commitment 8 weeks of study; 4-6 hours/week Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.2 stars Average User Rating 4.2See what learners said 课程作业

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a world leader in research, teaching and public engagement, distinguished by the breadth of its programs, broad academic excellence, and internationally renowned faculty and alumni. Illinois serves the world by creating knowledge, preparing students for lives of impact, and finding solutions to critical societal needs.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


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


2 videos, 8 readings expand


  1. Video: Emergence of Life Trailer
  2. 阅读: Welcome to Emergence of Life!
  3. 阅读: Syllabus
  4. 阅读: Updating Your Profile
  5. 阅读: Social Media
  6. 阅读: About the Discussion Forums
  7. 阅读: How Graded Discussions Work
  8. 阅读: Discussion Rubric
  9. 阅读: Paper Assignment Rubric
  10. Video: Welcome to the Emergence of Life!

Graded: Orientation Quiz

Week 1 - Geological Time and the Nature of Science



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.


9 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 1 Overview
  2. Video: 1.1. Scientific World View
  3. Video: 1.2. Philosophical Benchmarks in Science
  4. Video: 1.3. Scientific Inquiry vs Scientific Method
  5. Video: 1.4. The Scale of Time and Space: Powers of Ten
  6. Video: 1.5. NASA’s Greeting Card to Aliens: The Golden Record
  7. Video: 1.6. Deep Geological Time
  8. Video: 1.7. The Structure of the Solar System
  9. Video: 1.8. Birth of the Earth
  10. Video: 1.9. The Perfect Storm: A Recipe for Life
  11. 讨论提示: Week 1 Discussion

Graded: Week 1 Quiz A
Graded: Week 1 Quiz B

WEEK 2


Week 2 - The Tree of Life and Early Earth Environments



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!


10 videos, 3 readings expand


  1. 阅读: Week 2 Overview
  2. Video: 2.1. The Scientific Inquiry of Carl Woese
  3. Video: 2.2. The Place of Carl Woese in Evolutionary Biology
  4. Video: 2.3. Revolution of the Tree of Life
  5. Video: 2.4. Evolution of the Tree of Life
  6. Video: 2.5. How Did Life Emerge?
  7. Video: 2.6. The Genetic Code and Evolutionary Theory
  8. Video: 2.7. Throwing Rocks at Earth: The Martian Meteorite
  9. Video: 2.8. Microbial Mats and Stromatolites: Laying Down On the Job
  10. Video: 2.9. Oxygenation of the Atmosphere
  11. Video: 2.10. Snowball Earth; It Did Freeze Over!
  12. 阅读: Who Was Carl Woese?
  13. 讨论提示: Week 2 Discussion
  14. 阅读: Paper Assignment 1 Information

Graded: Weeks 1-2 Discussion Samples
Graded: Week 2 Quiz A
Graded: Week 2 Quiz B
Graded: Paper Assignment 1

WEEK 3


Week 3 - Fossilization and Precambrian Life-Earth Interaction



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.


7 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 3 Overview
  2. Video: 3.1. DCSI: Dino Crime Scene Investigators
  3. Video: 3.2. Ancient Forensic Science: Fossilization
  4. Video: 3.3. Getting Old and Well-Preserved: Modes of Preservation
  5. Video: 3.4. Our Spineless Friends: The Invertebrates
  6. Video: 3.5. Lifestyles of the Rich and Fossilized
  7. Video: 3.6. Trying to Make a Living: Fossil Feeding Modes
  8. Video: 3.7. The Great Experiment of the Ediacaran Fauna
  9. 讨论提示: Week 3 Discussion

Graded: Week 3 Discussion Samples
Graded: Week 3 Quiz A
Graded: Week 3 Quiz B

WEEK 4


Week 4 - Paleozoic Life After the Advent of Skeletons



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.


10 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. 阅读: Week 4 Overview
  2. Video: 4.1. Cycles of Radiation and Extinction
  3. Video: 4.2. Cambrian Explosion
  4. Video: 4.3. Cambrian Fauna: Origin of Vertebrates
  5. Video: 4.4. Burgess Shale Experiment
  6. Video: 4.5. Invertebrates: Successes of Life Without a Backbone
  7. Video: 4.6. Paleozoic Fauna
  8. Video: 4.7. Vertebrates: Successes of Life With a Backbone
  9. Video: 4.8. Evolution of Jaws and Perfecting Predation
  10. Video: 4.9. Heavily Armored Fish Without Jaws
  11. Video: 4.10. Fish Evolution: Hook, Line, and Sinker
  12. 讨论提示: Week 4 Discussion
  13. 阅读: Paper Assignment 2 Information

Graded: Week 4 Discussion Samples
Graded: Week 4 Quiz A
Graded: Week 4 Quiz B
Graded: Paper Assignment 2

WEEK 5


Week 5 - Paleozoic Plants, Reptiles, and the Transition to Land



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.


7 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 5 Overview
  2. Video: 5.1. Plants Invade the Land and Sea
  3. Video: 5.2. Early Prevascular Plants
  4. Video: 5.3. Takeover of the Vascular Plants
  5. Video: 5.4. Pennsylvanian Greenhouse Earth
  6. Video: 5.5. Rise of the Reptiles
  7. Video: 5.6. Reptiles Heating Up: Thermal Regulation
  8. Video: 5.7. Diapsids and Synapsids: Ships Passing in the Night
  9. 讨论提示: Week 5 Discussion

Graded: Week 5 Discussion Samples
Graded: Week 5 Quiz A
Graded: Week 5 Quiz B

WEEK 6


Week 6 - Mesozoic Reign of the Dinosaurs and the Development of Flight



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.


8 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. 阅读: Week 6 Overview
  2. Video: 6.1. Symbiosis as a Strategy of Survival
  3. Video: 6.2. Rise of the Diapsids
  4. Video: 6.3. Pterosaurs: The ONLY Flying Reptiles
  5. Video: 6.4. Dinosaur Phylogeny: Hips Don't Lie
  6. Video: 6.5. Evolution of Flight: Life Invades the Sky
  7. Video: 6.6. Wild Wings: Fit to Fly
  8. Video: 6.7. Cretaceous Warming on a Reorganized Earth
  9. Video: 6.8. T. rex, and the Crater of Doom
  10. 讨论提示: Week 6 Discussion
  11. 阅读: Paper Assignment 3 Information

Graded: Week 6 Discussion Samples
Graded: Week 6 Quiz A
Graded: Week 6 Quiz B
Graded: Paper Assignment 3

WEEK 7


Week 7 - Cenozoic Mammals and Global Environmental Change



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.


10 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 7 Overview
  2. Video: 7.1. House of the Rising Mammals
  3. Video: 7.2. Mammals Conquer the Earth
  4. Video: 7.3. Big is Beautiful
  5. Video: 7.4. Sophistication of Mammal Skulls
  6. Video: 7.5. Mammalian Dentition: My, What Big Teeth You Have!
  7. Video: 7.6. Mammals: Taxonomy is in the Eye of the Beholder
  8. Video: 7.7. Mammal-Marsupial Exchange: There Goes the Neighborhood
  9. Video: 7.8. The Primates
  10. Video: 7.9. The Rise of Humans: Getting a Leg Up on the Competition
  11. Video: 7.10. Early Hominids: Trees versus Savannahs
  12. 讨论提示: Week 7 Discussion

Graded: Week 7 Discussion Samples
Graded: Week 7 Quiz A
Graded: Week 7 Quiz B

WEEK 8


Week 8 - Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Cosmos



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.


11 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 8 Overview
  2. Video: 8.1. NASA Astrobiology: Roadmap to Life in the Universe
  3. Video: 8.2. NASA: A Platform for Inter-Disciplinary Science
  4. Video: 8.3. Mars Flybys and Orbiters: Getting the Picture
  5. Video: 8.4. Mars Rovers: Was the Red Planet Habitable?
  6. Video: 8.5. NASA Future Missions
  7. Video: 8.6. NASA Institute for Universal Biology
  8. Video: 8.7. Think and Wonder…Wonder and Think
  9. Video: 8.8. The Emergence of Life: Course Synthesis
  10. Video: Emergence of Life Outtakes
  11. 讨论提示: Week 8 Discussion
  12. Video: Week 8 Quiz A Video 1: Curiosity Completes Its First Martian Year
  13. Video: Week 8 Quiz A Video 2: One Year to Pluto

Graded: Week 8 Quiz A
Graded: Week 8 Quiz B
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