59026 - Comparative Anatomy

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The Comparative Anatomy course introduces the student to the knowledge of the basic anatomical features of the main organic apparatus characteristics of vertebrates. The course enables the student to understand the form and general functions that have evolved from piscine to terrestrial vertebrates.


Course contents

Course in Comparative Anatomy for Natural Science, Prof L. Alibardi

General introduction: organic apparatus and comparative method, homology and analogy, ontogenesis, systematics, origin of vertebrates and their establishement during the Geological Periods (Piscine vertebrates, tetrapods and amniotes in particular).

Chordates: notes on urochordates and cephalochordates and their evolutive relationships with vertebrates. Types of vertebrates, classification and phylogenetic affinities.

Agnatans and Cyclostomata: classification and main characteristics of different vertebrate classes and their progressive evolution: Ostrachoderms and Cyclostomes, Placoderms, Achantodians, Chondrichtyes, Osteictyans (Paleoniscoids and Actinopterygians, Sarcopterygians), Amphibians, Sauropsids (Reptiles and Birds), and Theropsids (Synapsids, therapsids, and extant Mammals).

Development of cephalochordates as a model to grasp the development of vertebrates.

Development of Anamniotes: ictyopsids (cartilaginous and bony fish) and amphibians (canonical or modified as the bases to grasp the embryogenesis in amniotes).

Development of Amniotes: sauropsids (reptiles and birds) in relation to the evolution of development in mammals (monotremes, marsupials and placentals). Viviparity among vertebertaes, placentation and placental types.

Notes on integument development. Comparative anatomy of the integument and its derivatives in different vertebrates (epidermis, dermis and horny scales, feathers, hairs and glands, horns, claws etc). Pigmentation.

Notes on the development of cartilaginous and bone tissues. Anatomy of the skeleton in vertebrates: vertebral column, girdles, limbs and skull.

Notes on the development of the central and pheripheral nervous system. Anatomy and evolution of the nervous apparatus (spinal cord, hindbrain and cranial nerves, midbrain and cerebellum, mesencephalon, forebrain). Notes on the main nervous pathways connecting sensory organs and the encephalon. Organization of autonomous system and of sensory organs.

Notes on the development of the respiratory apparatus. Anatomy of gills and lungs in vertebrates and lung evolution in terrestrial tetrapods and amniotes. Respiratory mechanisms.

Development of the blood and blood vessels. Anatomy and evolution of the circulatory system (hearth, arteries and veins). Fetal circulation in mammals. Notes on the lymphatic and immune system in vertebrates. Lymphoid organs and humoral s cellular immunity.

Development of the urinary system. Anatomy of pronephrons, mesonephrons and metanephrons, including notes on the excretion process. Relationships between urinary and genital system. Types of gonads in vertebrates (parenchymatic, vesicular or tubular). Development of gonads and their ducts in different vertebrates (anamniotes and amniotes). Formation of the terminal tract of uro-genital ducts (cloaca and urinal sinus) in various vertebrates.

Notes on the development and adaptation of the alimentary system. Anatomy of the digestive system (mouth and glands, teeth, esophagus, stomach, intestine and digestive glands).

Lab demonstrations:

Laboratory analysis of microscopic and macroscopic preparations of the different anatomical systems (integumentary, skeletal, nervous system and sensory organs, respiratory, circulatory, uro-genital, and digestive).

Study books:

GC Kent: Anatomia comparata dei vertebrati, Piccin Ed, Padova

Zavanella T, Cardani C. Anatomia dei vertebrati. Antonio Delfino editore, Roma

Franquinet e Foucrier. Embriologia descrittiva, Edises

G. Minelli: Elementi di Morfologia dei vertebrati, Patron Ed, Bologna

G. Minelli: Embriologia dei vertebrati, Patron ed, Bologna

Office hours

See the website of Lorenzo Alibardi