Teach the Earth > Climate Change > Ideas for Teaching about Paleoclimate > Mammoths and Mastodons

This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

Mammoths and Mastodons

This activity was developed during the Teaching Climate Change from the Geological Record workshop, held in August 2010.
Contributed by Susan Conrad, Alison Smith, and Stephanie Peek

Topic: Mammal biogeography and climate

Course Type: Introductory Geology Course, College Freshman level


Introductory Lecture

Mammal biogeography and climate, glacial-interglacial cycles in North American Quaternary, introduction of biome concept, keystone taxa concept 50 minutes

Homework assignment: Students will bring a map with the plotted positions by lat/long of unlabeled sites of mastodon and mammoth localities in North America (from Faunmap) to lab the following day. These unlabeled sites will simply be identified as "A" (mastodons) and "B" (mammoths).

Lab (approximately 2.5 hours)

Goal: To identify whether they have a mastodon or mammoth, to reconstruct the paleoenvironment and to answer the questions on the worksheet - which team can do this and come in under budget. Mark on the "A" and "B" map the identification of their fossil site.

Next day lecture

Putting the lab in context of extinction events, late glacial-Holocene transition, changing environments. In-class discussion drawing on questions and insights that came up in lab.


Students should be able to do the following:



« Climate, Ecoregions, and the Mammals Who Live in Them