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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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Evolution in Your part of Activities
This writing exercise asks students to use library resources to locate a peer-reviewed journal article that describes research on the evolution of their individual "pet" taxonomic group. After reading the ...

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Capstone Research Project: Holocene History of Estuarine Environmental Change part of 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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Cladogram Construction and Vertebrate Phylogeny part of Activities
Students are given pictures of a variety of extant vertebrates. They work in groups to determine which animals are most closely related. Following a series of clicker questions and a discussion of the ...

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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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What is a paleontological species? part of 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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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

Lab 9: Stalked echinoderms, graptolites, conodonts, and trace fossils part of 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 ...

Microfossils Lab (Labs 2 and 4) part of Activities
Lab assignment in which students examine different types of microfossils and pick condont elements and foraminifera from sediments and then photograph their specimens using the SEM

Mass Extinctions and the Fossil Record part of Activities
This is a writing assignment for historical geology. Students submit online and peer-review their work.

Going to the Dogs: Exploring Allometry and Heterochrony part of Activities
This activity explores the relationship between developmental biology and macroevolution by focusing on how evolutionary changes in ontogeny can produce small-scale (within species) and large-scale (between species ...

Brachiopod exercise for FossilPlot part of Activities
Uses FossilPlot to graph Phanerozoic histories of Articulata, introduce concepts on diversity and mass extinctions, and basic biostratigraphy.

Cladistics part of Activities
This is the third in a series of exercises in Cladistics for students. The first two are simpler, because they are planned to "work out." This one requires students to grapple with choosing characters ...

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

Character coding part of 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.

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 ...

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.