This web-based module leads students through an exploration of the patterns in the diversity of life across planet Earth. Students are scaffolded as they practice data interpretation and scientific reasoning skills.
UC Museum of Paleontology
To check their understanding, students complete multiple choice questions online. Free response essay items throughout the activity allow the module to be used as a graded assignment. A menu at the bottom of the first page of the module will allow you to assign sections to work on individually.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Biological evolution accounts for diversity over long periods of time. (LS4.A, LS4.D)
- Background extinctions are a normal occurrence.
- Rates of extinction vary.
- 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. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Accepted scientific theories are not tenuous; they must survive rigorous testing and be supported by multiple lines of evidence to be accepted. (NOS2, NOS4)
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.
- Scientists use the geographic distribution of fossils and living things to learn about the history of life.
- Rates of speciation vary.
- Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)