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Lesson summary for:
Ancient fossils and modern climate change: The work of Jennifer McElwain

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Overview:
Wondering how global warming will affect our planet? Scientist Jennifer McElwain studies the fossil record in order to learn more about how global warming has affected life on Earth in the past and how it might affect life on Earth in the future.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
40 minutes

Teaching tips:
Use this resource after a general discussion of photosynthesis to relate evolutionary concepts to the topics of photosynthesis, plant structure, and climate change (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). This article would also make a nice contrast to a discussion of the KT mass extinction. This research profile includes discussion and essay questions that can be assigned to students. Get tips for using research profiles in your classroom.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

  • The fossil record documents patterns of extinction and the appearance of new forms.

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.

  • Science is a human endeavor.

  • Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life, for example in agriculture, biodiversity and conservation biology, and medicine and health.

  • Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.

Teacher background:

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