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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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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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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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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 ...

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 ...

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.

Clam Dissection part of 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.

Theoretical Morphology Modeling the Growth of Clonal Organisms part of Activities
Students use a Matlab/Octave program to model the growth of stromatoporoid sponges in a variety of different sedimentary conditions and exploring how assumptions about their growth affect their morphology. Main ...

Graphic Correlation Exercise part of Activities
This is a graphic correlation lab exercise. It builds quantitative skills. It also gives students practice interpreting data and drawing geological and biological conclusions.

phenogram construction part of Activities
This is a simple exercise where students construct a phenogram using a collection of different fossils or random objects.

Field Lab - Stromatolites part of Activities
The lab requires students to make detailed observations on an outcrop, both about the fossils (stromatolites) and the lithology. It addresses the two 'content goals' of the course: assessing mode of life ...

Hands-on Activities for understanding Ammonite Sutures part of Activities
This lab/project/topic starts with a hands-on activity that can be accomplished in one to two hours, depending on how you do it. It is designed to make students demonstrate they know (really) what sutures are in ...

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.

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