The course will cover major developments, innovations, and extinctions in the nearly four billion year history of life of Earth. What types of life forms have existed throughout history? How have mass extinction events shaped our planet? Modes of fossilization, geological processes, evolutionary theory, and the classification and evolution of major phyla of flora and fauna will be investigated via hands-on laboratory exercises incorporating anatomical illustrations and fossil observation. We will investigate how fossils can be used to interpret past ecosystems, environments, and climates - and how museum preparators and artists can bring these extinct organisms to life in reconstructions. We will examine current research on hypotheses about topics ranging from why dinosaurs became extinct to how human life came into existence.