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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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How do cladistics work? Generating phylogenetic trees using everyday objects. part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This lab activity is intended to introduce students to concepts of homology and evolutionary characters, and to help them understand how cladistic analyses are performed. The activity begins with generating a ...

Functional Morphology: Philosophy and Methodology part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This is short thought exercise used to introduce the subject of functional morphology. Students are asked to use their intuition to generate hypotheses of functional morphology. Through this students recognize the ...

Weigh a Dinosaur part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Lab or small classroom activity where students use scale models (read: toy dinosaurs) to arrive at estimates of dinosaur body mass. Teaches scale, unit conversions, simple calculations, and, at higher levels, ...

Cladistics part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
lab assignments intended to teach the basics of reading phylogenetic diagrams and parsimony optimization.

Deep time - what is your metaphor? part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Construct your own metaphor, appropriately scaled, for communicating deep time.

Character coding part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Learning about the different ways the morphological variation can be coded into phylogenetic character data, with emphasis on the limitations and assumptions of each.

Forensic Paleontology part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Students examine and sketch a dead animal, discovering as much as possible about it.

Paleobiology Database Activity for Historical Geology part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This laboratory exercise uses the Paleobiology Database to examine the relationships between continental position, sea-level and distribution of life through time.

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.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
Learn more about this review process.

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 ...

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 ...

Poster Presentation part of Activities
Students are required to do independent research on a topic of their choosing. They are then required to construct a poster that explains the main points of their topic using a combination of words and graphics. ...

Macroevolution: Patterns and Processes of the Cambrian Metazoan Radiation part of Activities
Diversification patterns for clades belonging to the Cambrian Fauna (i.e., one of Sepkoski's Three Great Faunas) are generated and then used to test whether deterministic or random processes drove this ...

Laboratory Exercise on Bivalve Functional Morphology part of Activities
This exercise shows students how to infer modes of life of bivalve mollusks from their shell form. In the process, they will learn how to employ deductive reasoning in this sort of activity

Field Lab - Stromatolites part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology: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 ...

Eocene Exposure Field Trip part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
This field trip visits an exposure near Aiken, South Carolina in Eocene, unconsolidated, clayey quartz sand with abundant trace fossils Ophiomorpha ichnosp. and Ophiomorpha nodosa. Early in the course, this trip ...

Lab 9: Stalked echinoderms, graptolites, conodonts, and trace fossils part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Last lab for my invertebrate paleontology course, which covers some of the lesser known groups. Strength is that the students get to see fossil example of each of these groups to help bring them to life rather just ...

The Unknown Fossil Report part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Students each receive a fossil of unknown identity. They describe the specimen in as much detail as possible. They interpret as much information as they can from the specimen.

Oral Presentation of a Fossil Group part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
Students present a 10 minute Powerpoint presentation on a fossil group of their interest. Illustrations and handouts are required.

Predator-Prey Interactions in Modern Settings part of Cutting Edge:Paleontology:Activities
A project on predator-prey interactions in modern marine settings, with emphasis on developing student skills in producing and analyzing paleontologic data. Project designed by Prof. Sara Pruss at Smith College.