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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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

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

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Paleoecology Lab part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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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Taxonomy & Phylogeny: Building and Comparing a Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Bivalve Mollusks part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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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Measuring Dinosaur Speed from Trackways part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This activity demonstrates how measurements taken from fossil trackways can be used to estimate the speed at which extinct animals were moving when they made the trackways, providing students the opportunity to ...

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Interpreting Fossil Assemblages part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This assignment is a synthesis of many of the skills learned throughout the course from taxonomic identification to paleoecological interpretations.

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Systematics of some enigmatic "fossils" part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Students and instructor work through a guided exercise to construct a character matrix and cladograms describing relationships between different types of paper clips. Students then break into small groups to ...

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What is a paleontological species? part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
In this specimen-based activity, students study ischyromyid rodent molar cusp morphology and develop their understanding of the morphological species concept as applied in paleontology.

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Life Mode Characteristics part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This exercise provides a standardized format that can be used to describe the life mode and its characteristics for most any organism or group of organisms.

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Are You Smarter Than a Dinosaur? part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Students investigate the intelligence of dinosaurs by comparing the relative size of brain and body mass to living animals.

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

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Silurian Biostratigraphy and Paleoecology Lab part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Explores paleoecologic and biostratigraphic uses of graptolites and brachiopods. Exercise is based on Silurian Great Britain data/interpretations published by Ziegler et al., 1968. It illustrates litho- and ...

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Investigation of micropaleontological and paleomagnetic data part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Micropaleontological and paleomagnetic data are investigated to construct an integrated biomagnetostratigrahic age model for an Ocean Drilling Program site. Investigation emphasizes the complementary nature of ...

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A basic trilobite morphometric exercise part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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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Clam Dissection part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Dissecting a living clam to see how soft parts and life mode can be reconstructed from the preserved shells. Note: clams are purchased at a local market.

Fossils in Context: creating your own fossiliferous 'limestone' part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Students collect from two Devonian field sites. The goal is to determine the depositional environment and whether these are life or death assemblages.

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