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Darwin's "extreme" imperfection?


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Darwin used the words "extreme imperfection" to describe the gappy nature of the fossil record - but is this really such a problem? This article delves into the topic of transitional fossils and explores what we have learned about them since Darwin's time.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Evolution: Education and Outreach

Grade level:

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/934652024q2677m1/fulltext.pdf

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

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • The fossil record contains organisms with transitional features.

  • There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms.

  • Evolution does not consist of progress in any particular direction.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)

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

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

Teacher background:

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