With well over 24,000 species alive today, the world's fishes comprise by far the largest and most diverse of all vertebrate groups. This seminar provides an introduction to this incredible diversity and looks at how scientists study fishes. Our examination asks us to re-evaluate and finally ask: what exactly is a fish? This course takes you into the lab with Museum scientists. Students are led through the steps of an actual investigation of a group of South American catfish (Hypoptopoma). Using the rules of cladistics (a system of classification) we seek to determine if a lab specimen is a new species. Specimen photos from the AMNH Ichthyology Department Collections, scientist-authored essays, video and web resources, allow students to explore the evolution, ecosystems, and biogeography of this group of animals and examine questions such as the meaning of biological success.
*All course information is from the 2013-2014 Catalog.