Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Moduli: Liliana Milani (Modulo 1) Valeria Franceschini (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Biological Sciences (cod. 8012)

Learning outcomes

This course provides students with the basic knowledge in vertebrate anatomy and biology from both functional and evolutionary points of view. Students also gain knowledge about fundamental steps in vertebrate development from fertilization to organogenesis. The students will be able to describe the vertebrate structures and relate morphology, funcion and evolution.

Course contents


Knowledge of the main morpho-functional characteristics of vertebrate tissues is an important prerequisite for a better understanding of the topics covered in the course. This prerequisite is provided through the course of Cytology and Histology.


- The comparative method, homology, analogy.

- Chordata. Urochordata and Cephalochordata.

- Characteristics of vertebrates; phylogeny and classification. Myxiniformes, Petromyzontiformes, Placodermi, Acanthodii, Chondrichthyes, Osteichthyes, Amphibia, reptiles, Aves, Mammalia.

- Embryonic development of cephalochordates, amphibians, and birds.

- Extraembryonic membranes.

- Integument and derivatives; pigmentation.

- Skeletal system: skull, axial skeleton, appendicular skeleton.

- Central and peripheral nervous systems.

- Autonomic nervous system.

- Sensory organs.

- Respiratory system.

- Circulatory system.

- Urinary system.

- Reproductive system.

- Digestive system.


Recognition and description of preparations relating to embryonic development, to specimens of adult vertebrates, and to the various systems treated.


KF Liem, WE Bemis, WF Walker e L Grande, Anatomia Comparata dei Vertebrati. Una visione funzionale ed evolutiva, EdiSES, Napoli, 2011

Teaching resources relating to laboratory lessons may be downloaded from Virtuale.

Teaching methods

The teaching consists of 8 CFU of which 7 CFU of frontal lessons and 1 CFU, corresponding to 12 hours, of practical activities in the laboratory.

The practical lessons are carried out in the Comparative Anatomy Exercises room where the collection of teaching preparations is kept. The objective of the practical lessons in the laboratory is to develop in the student the ability to recognize the main characteristics of the embryology and anatomy of vertebrates, as described during the frontal lessons.

Assessment methods

The final exam aims to verify the acquisition of the knowledge required by the course objectives and concerns all the topics covered during the course. The exam includes a written test and an oral test. The use of support material such as textbooks, notes and electronic media is not allowed during the tests.

The written test includes questions on topics addressed during the course. The grade is expressed in 30ies. A grade of at least 18/30 is required to pass the written text.

The oral test consists in the justified recognition of macroscopic preparations and has the purpose of verifying the candidate's ability to recognize embryonic and anatomical structures of vertebrates, as described during the frontal lessons. Justified recognition requires the description of the characteristics of the preparation based on which the identification was carried out, with in-depth discussion of the topic.

To take the exam, online registration via the AlmaEsami service is required in observance of the established deadlines. Those who fail to enroll by the scheduled date are required to promptly notify the problem to the student secretariat (in any case before the official closure of the enrollment list).

Those not admitted to the oral exam can view the corrected written assignment immediately after the communication of the outcome of the test. For those admitted to the oral test, examination of the corrected written assignment is foreseen at the beginning of the oral exam itself.

Teaching tools

PC and video projector for lesson presentations.

Anatomical and embryological preparations deposited in the Comparative Anatomy didactic collection are used as teaching resources in laboratory lessons.

Office hours

See the website of Liliana Milani

See the website of Valeria Franceschini


Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.