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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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Cladogram Construction and Vertebrate Phylogeny part of Activities
Students are given pictures of a variety of extant vertebrates. They work in groups to determine which animals are most closely related. Following a series of clicker questions and a discussion of the ...

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When Pond Scum Ruled the Earth - The Proterozoic Fossil Record part of Activities
In this specimen-based activity, students examine microfossils and stromatolites and build an understanding of the Proterozoic paleontological record.

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Creature Features - Showcase of Living Fossils part of Activities
This activity connects the fossil record to biodiversity in the Recent by having students present on a "living fossil" group. The exercise is useful in demonstrating evolutionary stasis, reminding ...

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Paleoecology Lab part of Activities
This activity gives students practice in identifying fossils in the context of assemblages and allows them to make paleoecological interpretations.

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Fossil/modern mole phylogeny part of Activities
Students code characters from fossil taxa to add to an existing morphological phylogenetic analysis of moles. This activity is original research; the fossil taxa have never before been included in a phylogenetic ...

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Paleoecological exercise: Testing competition among Paleozoic brachiopods part of Activities
This lab activity tests the hypothesis that competition has resulted in niche partitioning among four species of brachiopods.

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Taxonomy & Phylogeny: Building and Comparing a Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Bivalve Mollusks part of Activities
This is a two-part exercise that introduces the principles and methods behind taxonomy and phylogenetics. In part I, students, by describing the morphology of various species of modern and fossil bivalve mollusks, ...

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Paleoecology: An Evolutionary Arms Race part of Activities
In this activity, students divide into groups of 4-5, fine-tune a hypothesis relating to escalation, collect data to test this hypothesis using mollusks from local Yorktown deposits (Pliocene), analyze these data, ...

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Graphic Correlation part of Activities
The objective of this exercise is to acquaint you with a simple graphic method that can be used to: determine changes in sediment accumulation rate, evaluate the completeness of different sections and environments, ...

Bioturbation Exercise part of Activities
Students are given data for three unidentified hypothetical environments and asked to determine the relative effects of mixed layer thickness, sediment accumulation rate, and bioturbation rate based on a simple ...

Random Walks, Evolutionary Trends, and Branching Models of Diversification part of Activities
Students are exposed to the concept of random walk and how stochastic processes can be applied to constrain interpretation of diversity trends through geologic time.

A paleobiogeography exercise part of Activities
In this exercise, students are guided through a quantitative comparison of taxonomically distinct Jurassic Ammonite faunas from five different accreted terranes in western North America, and a similar evaluation of ...

Taphonomy Experiment part of Activities
This is a semester-long project the students design and run themselves. They come up with an original question relating to taphonomic processes and design an experiment to test their hypotheses. At the end of the ...

Field collection and community analysis project part of Activities
The class will take field trips to different fossil localities in Missouri, where students will collect and identify the fossils they find. They will perform a community analysis, using a statistics program. The ...

Paleobotany Exercise: 200,000 Years of Pollen and Environmental Change part of Activities
Students interpret a pollen data set that extends back to 220,000 years ago. They gain experience in observing morphological differences in pollen taxa, collection and orginization of data, data analysis, and ...

An Exploratory Activity in Marine Diversity Analysis part of Activities
This activity introduces students to the Sepkoski database of fossil invertebrates through guided use of online access to the compendium. The activity calls for data analysis and display as well as student response ...

Reconstructing the depositional environment of a local rock formation part of Activities
Each group of students works on a well defined local outcrop and decribes sedimentary units and fossil content. Based on this data they reconstruct the depositional environment, put it into a broader ...

Fossils in Context: creating your own fossiliferous 'limestone' part of Activities
Our museum collection is full of loose, individual, beautiful fossils of marine invertebrates. I try to get students to understand that most fossils they might actually find in the field are locked in rock, and ...

Field Lab - Ecosystem and Paleoenvironment analysis part of Activities
Students collect from two Devonian field sites. The goal is to determine the depositional environment and whether these are life or death assemblages.

Devonian Transformation part of Activities
Students use the web to examine the biologic, geologic, atmospheric, and climatologically changes that occur with the evolution of land plants. This write up is a summary of web-based readings which the students ...

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