The Pangea Puzzle
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
- Outline the geographic distribution of a species
- Describe the basic tenets of plate tectonics
- Summarize the geologic time scale
- Describe past supercontinents
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Construct a map of fossil occurrences on the present-day Earth's surface
- Construct a map of fossil occurrences on the Earth's surface at various times in Earth's past
- Identify the past distributions of fossils on ancient continents and supercontinents
- Explain how the present-day distributions of fossil organisms are different from their distribution during the time of their deposition as fossils
- Develop hypotheses regarding why the present-day distribution of fossil occurrences is dramatically different from their distribution during the time of their deposition as fossils.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
This activity is designed to be flexible and can be used as a lecture, lab, or homework activity. The duration of the activity ranges from 1-1.5 hours, depending on how many fossil distributions are plotted.
Students can work as individuals or in pairs and class size can range from a small seminar (< 10 students) to a large lecture (> 100), as long as sufficient computer facilities are available.
Each student or student pair will need access to a laptop or desktop computer connected to the internet, running an internet browser.
The Pangea Puzzle (Acrobat (PDF) 62kB Jul5 17)
Determining whether students have met the goals
- Can be accomplished in lecture or lab by observing student progress and trouble-shooting challenges.
- Can also double check that the major tasks (i.e., constructing modern maps, constructing past maps) are accomplished in a timely manner and are accurate.
Teaching materials and tips
Student Handout: The Pangea Puzzle (Acrobat (PDF) 62kB Jul5 17)
Fossil Organisms in this activity
- Glossopteris: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/seedplants/pteridosperms/glossopterids.html
- Lystrosaurus: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/28/lystrosaurus-the-most-humble-badass-of-the-triassic/
- Mesosaurus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesosaurus
- Marsupialia: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/marsupial/marsupial.html
- What is a supercontinent? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercontinent
- What is Pangea? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangaea
- Paleobiogeography of Titanosauria - http://www-personal.umich.edu/~wilsonja/Titanosauria/Paleobiogeography.html
- What is paleobiogeography? - http://web.archive.org/web/20100627034515/http://www.paleo.ku.edu/geo/faculty/BSL/annurevecolsys.pdf