This web-based module provides students with a basic understanding of how fossils can be used to interpret the past.
UC Museum of Paleontology
One to two class periods.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Geological change and biological evolution are linked.
- Tectonic plate movement has affected the evolution and distribution of living things. (ESS1.C)
- Living things have had a major influence on the composition of the atmosphere and on the surface of the planet. (ESS2.E)
- Mass extinctions occur.
- An organism’s features reflect its evolutionary history.
- The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.
- The fossil record contains organisms with transitional features.
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- 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.