Introduction to the Trilobites: Morphology, Macroevolution and More
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are
- Scientific Accuracy
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This page first made public: Mar 21, 2014
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
The learning goals for this lab are the following: 1) to familiarize students with the anatomy and terminology relating to trilobites; 2) to give students experience identifying morphologic structures on real fossil specimens, not just diagrammatic representations; 3) to highlight major events or trends in the evolutionary history and ecology of the Trilobita; and 4) to expose students to the study of macroevolution in the fossil record using trilobites as a case study.
This laboratory exercise mixes the traditional taxon approach and the conceptual framework approach to teaching paleontology by covering information on the anatomy and ecology of the trilobites while also delving into macroevolutionary concepts. This lab introduces the basic anatomy and ecology of the Trilobita and then requires the students to apply that new knowledge immediately to complete an exercise on macroevolution. This should reinforce the anatomy and vocabulary multiple times in the same lab to increase retention and demonstrate to students why understanding anatomy is important to tackling modern problems in paleontology. This lab does not cover each of the trilobite orders in detail and places emphasis on understanding ecology and evolutionary concepts over memorization of groups.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Padian (2010) suggests that teaching macroevolution is a way to defeat creationist arguments that typically only refute microevoltuion. In particular, Padian (2010) suggests increasing the coverage of macroevoltuionary concepts at the college level where he has demonstrated it is currently lacking in upper level biology, evolution, and paleontology textbooks (Padian, 2008). By combining a discussion of macroevolutionary theory with the latest published research on trilobite pattern and process, this lab aims to do just that.
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
Laboratory Assignment : Introduction to the Trilobites Lab (Acrobat (PDF) 1.9MB Jul3 14)
Laboratory Key: Introduction to the Trilobites Key (Acrobat (PDF) 1.9MB Jul3 14)
References and Resources
Padian, K. (2008). Trickle-down evolution: an approach to getting major evolutionary adaptive changes into textbooks and curricula. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 48(2), 175-188.
Padian, K. (2010). How to Win the Evolution War: Teach Macroevolution! Evolution: Education and Outreach, 3(2), 206-214.