What Can We Learn From Fossils
Central Florida Community College
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jun 4, 2009
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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 to experience a simplified process of how paleontologist make intpretations about extinct organism.
undergraduate non-major Dinosaurs course
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
basic anatomy, calculating speeds from morphology, how morphology reflects basic behaviors and movement
How the activity is situated in the course
stand alone exercise
Content/concepts goals for this activity
undertsand how paleontologist make intpretation about organisms based on aviable information
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
formulating a hypothesis and synthesis of ideas
Other skills goals for this activity
use the WWW to research information about the locality of the extinct animal and write a defense for the conclusions about the locality
Description of the activity/assignment
Students have learned throughout the course how paleontologists make interpretations about fossils. As we covered the various dinosaur groups we covered what interpretations have been made about their growth rates, eating habits, speeds, and etc. There is also a discussion of how paleontologists have made these interpretations. This activity is associated with the Taphonomy chapter and allows students to use the tools that they have acquired throughout the course to make interpretation about a modern animal and an extinct animal. Each student receives a packet of information on a modern animal and an extinct animal. This packet includes various pictures of the skeleton, foot prints, teeth, skull, and etc. To complete the assignment each student must synthesize the knowledge they learned throughout the course and make supported conclusions about each animal. They also must complete a write up of the locality of the extinct animal and what is known about the paleoecology.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Reasonably defend their conclusions
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
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