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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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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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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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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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Capstone Research Project: Holocene History of Estuarine Environmental Change part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This is a collaborative, semester-long research project that students conduct as their capstone activity for the course. The project is designed to be comprehensive and apply numerous concepts, topical units, and ...

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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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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.

Devonian Transformation part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 ...

Bioturbation Exercise part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 ...

How do we recognize and use fossils in outcrop? part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 ...

Rickard Hill Field Project: Peering Into Deep Time part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
In this field activity, students make observations of the texture, lithology and fauna of two limestone units and use this information to reconstuct paleoenvironments, how these environments changed through time ...

Paper dissection part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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.

What Can We Learn From Fossils part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
To learn how paleontologist use fossils and rocks to learn about extinct organisms and paleoenvironments. Students use photographs to infer information about a living and an extinct organism. This allows students ...

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