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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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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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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.

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 ...

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.

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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.