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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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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: 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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Layer Cake Geology part of Activities
This activity visually introduces students to the idea of geologic time and the correlation between time, rock layers and fossils. It uses the familiar, relevant example of cake but teaches important concepts such ...

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Caminalcule Phylogenetic Exercise part of Activities
Imaginary creatures (caminalcues) are used as an introduction to the methods, assumptions, and conclusions of phylogenetic analysis.

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A basic trilobite morphometric exercise part of Activities
A lab exercise and follow-up classroom activity in which students measure some trilobite specimens, evaluate the statistical significance of differences documented in data acquired for two different populations, ...

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Relative Geologic Time and the Geologic Time Scale part of Activities
Group simulation of the development of the geologic time scale illustrating concepts of correlation and relative time. Extremely effective for teaching the significance of the geologic time scale.

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Trial by fire in the vertebrate graveyard part of Activities
Students work through a series of stations displaying isolated bones, and answer short-answer questions designed to introduce them to formulating and defending hypotheses concerning anatomical and taxonomic ...

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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 ...

Create a Cladogram part of Activities
Create a cladogram using nails,screws, and bolts. Teaches students not familar with paleontology about cladistics using items most students have seen before.

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

How do we recognize and use fossils in outcrop? part of Activities
Students find fossil hunting rewarding and fun. However, it is important that field trips to fossil localities go beyond mere hunting ("Is this a fossil?") and lead students to ask "What is the ...

Correlation part of Activities
Rocks from different regions can be correlated by fossils, by rock type, and by absolute dates. This exercise is meant to illustrate to students that many different parts of a rock record can be correlated, but do ...

Describing Fossils part of Activities
Make a line drawing of a brachiopod from a published description. Formally describe a brachiopod specimen. Identify specimens from descriptions written by other students.

Ontogeny-Anisometric Growth part of Activities
Randomly select growth rates for different parts of a trilobite skeleton, and follow the animal through two molt stages to see how morphology can change with ontogeny.

Paper dissection part of Activities
Students breakdown an article from a popular magazine or scientific journal, separating evidence and observations from interpretations. Follow up discussion focuses on the strength of the evidence.

Cladistics part of Activities
This is the third in a series of exercises in Cladistics for students. The first two are simpler, because they are planned to "work out." This one requires students to grapple with choosing characters ...

Using Range Through Charts: Constructing a Diversity Curve part of Activities
This is a hands-on jigsaw-style assignment for a non-majors geology class that illustrates when different groups of organisms originate, persist and go extinct in geological time. Students will be able to construct ...

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