cod. 01078

Academic year 2022/23
1° year of course - First semester
- Donato Antonio GRASSO
Academic discipline
Zoologia (BIO/05)
Discipline naturalistiche
Type of training activity
52 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Integrated course unit module: GENERAL ZOOLOGY - SYSTEMATIC ZOOLOGY

Learning objectives

This Module of General Zoology is designed to provide the bases for addressing the study of animal biology that will be detailed in the second part of the year (cfr. the Course of Systematic Zoology) and in the subsequent years.
Taking into account the Dublin Indicators (DI) for Teaching, the Course will allow the student to:
- Tackle the study of Zoology with an evolutionary-adaptive approach (DI: Knowledge and understanding).
- Understand the basic principles and mechanisms of evolution and organization and structure of animals, in addition to the morpho-functional systems of the main Taxa (DI: Knowledge and understanding).
- Acquire the basic and methodological principles for a better understanding of the other Courses in the following years that will deal with different aspects of animal biology (DI: Knowledge and understanding).
- Acquire the basic elements of methods and scopes of scientific research with particular emphasis on Zoology (DI: Knowledge and understanding; Making judgements).
- Identify connections among studied topics and linking them to basic or similar disciplines (DI: Learning skills; Making judgements).


- - -

Course unit content

The course of General Zoology provides the basic elements of animal biology with particular emphasis to morpho-functional, ecological and evolutionary aspects.
The Course is also aimed at providing general information on the scientific method and basic methodology of zoological research.

Full programme


During the first class, information about the programm, the aims of the Course and the examination methods (oral examination) will be provided. Information on the teaching materials available for the students as well as a list of suggested text books will be provided.
(the complete information is also available on the web portal Elly of the Course)

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF ANIMAL BIOLOGY. The study of Life. The unifying themes of Life Sciences. Zoology as a part of Biology. Zoology as a scientific process.
DI: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding

THE CHEMISTRY OF LIFE: General principles. The water. Organic compounds. Carbohydrates. Lipids. Proteins. Enzymes. Nucleic Acids.
DI: Knowledge and understanding

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE: The pre-biotic world. From the molecules to the organisms. The emergence of eukaryotes. The origin and evolution of animals.
DI: Knowledge and understanding

THE CELL: The concept of cell. The cellular organization. The prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell. Properties and features of animal cell. Structure and function of nucleus and cytoplasmatic organelles. Biological membranes. The cell cycle. Cell division. Mitosis. Meiosis and gametogenesis. Sexual life cycles.
DI: Knowledge and understanding

INFORMATION AND HEREDITY (Basic concepts): Chromosomic bases of heredity. Molecular bases of heredity. DNA as the seat of genetic information. DNA duplication. The long way from genotype to phenotype, the first step: the synthesis of polypeptides.
DI: Knowledge and understanding

EVOLUTION: The idea of evolution: historical background. The theory of Darwin and evidences supporting it. The meaning of “theory” in the scientific thinking. The evolution of populations and the forces of evolution. Microevolution. Speciation and mechanism of reproductive isolation. Macroevolution.
DI: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding

ELEMENTS of ANIMAL CLASSIFICATION AND PHYLOGENY: Criteria of classification. Taxonomic nomenclature. Systematic categories. Phylogenetic position and main features of the main animal Taxa.
DI: Knowledge and understanding; applying knowledge and understanding

THE FORM AND THE FUNCTION IN ANIMALS. A) The architecture of animal body: Hierarchical organization of animal complexity. Structural models of the body. Symmetry. Body cavities. Metamery. Cephalisation. Homology and Analogy. B) Some basic concepts on how the animal machinery works: An introduction to the basic processes of maintenance and homeostasis.
DI: Knowledge and understanding; applying knowledge and understanding

REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT: Asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction. Conjugation in Ciliates. Evolution of sexuality. Fertilization. Amphigony and Parthenogenesis. Primary and secondary sexual characters. Sexual dimorphism. Gonochorism and hermaphroditism. Metagenesis, neoteny, heterogony. Embryonic and post-embryonic development. Metamorphosis.
DI: Knowledge and understanding.

BASIC CONCEPTS OF ANIMAL ECOLOGY. a) An introduction to animal ecology; b) interactions among organisms: trophic webs, predation and competition. Symbioses. Mutualism, Commensalism, Parasitism; c) Mimicry. Cryptic and Faneric mimicry. Warning coloration. Batesian mimicry, Müllerian mimicry, Mertensian mimicry. Aggressive mimicry. Intraspecific mimicry.
DI: Knowledge and understanding; applying knowledge and understanding.


Slides, specific scientific articles and links to web sites will be available to download by the students on the web platform “Elly”. Instructional materials could be updated during the Course.


CAMPBELL – BIOLOGIA E GENETICA di Reece et al., Pearson (2021)


CAMPBELL – LA FORMA E LA FUNZIONE NEGLI ANIMALI, di Reece et al., Pearson (2021)

Teaching methods

Lectures made using also multimedia tools on the classical topics of general Zoology. Analysis of case studies for a better understanding of the principles and the experimental methods used in the field of animal biology.

Slide used during classes will be weekly available to download on Elly platform. To download the slides, students need to be registered on-line to the Course.
Importantly, the slides are not a substitute for lessons or of the Textbooks but are considered part of the accompanying instructional materials. Students should frequently control instructional materials and other information provided by the Teacher on the Elly web site.

Assessment methods and criteria

The examination consists of a written test (multiple choice test, 11 questions) aimed at verifying the ability of the student to tackle problems of Zoology using the methodological principles and knowledge acquired during the course; evaluating the student's ability to carry out cross-links between the various topics covered during the Course.
The exam is passed with a score of at least 18. The maximum possible score is 33 (3 points for ech complete answer, fraction of 3 for partial answers evaluated on the basis of the multiple choice available); 30 cum laude is obtained with a score of 31 or more.

Please note that the course of General Zoology is the first module of the integrated course "General and systematic Zoology" (12 CFU) whose overcoming requires a positive score in both modules of 6 credits of which it is composed. The final grade is the average of the ratings given in the two modules.

Other information

Information on the aim and content of the course (see above and below) are associated with the relative "Dublin Indicators" (DI) that characterize their purposes.
Dublin Indicators:
- Knowledge and understanding;
- Applying knowledge and understanding;
- Making judgements;
- Communication skills;
- Learning skills.