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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

Lesson summary for:
Parsimonious explanations for punctuated patterns

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Overview:
Punctuated equilibrium is sometimes erroneously cited as evidence that evolutionary biology still hasn't figured out how evolution works. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Punctuated equilibrium builds on (not tears down!) established evolutionary theory. Find out how the process works.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Author/Source:
Evolution: Education and Outreach

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
40 minutes

Teaching tips:
This article is written for teachers and comes with links to additional examples, supplementary information, and classroom tips. It is also available as a pdf at http://www.springerlink.com/content/53404076954704k3/fulltext.pdf

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 patterns of extinction and the appearance of new forms.

  • Speciation is the splitting of one ancestral lineage into two or more descendent lineages.

  • Speciation requires reproductive isolation.

  • Occupying new environments can provide new selection pressures and new opportunities, leading to speciation. (LS4.C)

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

  • Rates of evolution vary.

  • Some lineages remain relatively unchanged for long periods of time.

  • Speciation is often the result of geographic isolation.

  • The sequence of forms in the fossil record is reflected in the sequence of the rock layers in which they are found and indicates the order in which they evolved.

  • Evolutionary change can sometimes happen rapidly.

  • Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)

Teacher background:

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