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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

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Teaching materials database

Found 37 resources for the concept: An organism’s features reflect its evolutionary history

Stories from the Fossil Record
This web-based module provides students with a basic understanding of how fossils can be used to interpret the past.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Online activity or lab

Lines of evidence: The science of evolution
The theory of evolution is broadly accepted by scientists — and for good reason! Learn about the diverse and numerous lines of evidence that support the theory of evolution.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Tutorial

Parasites and pathogens take the leap
Diseases like SARS, HIV, and West Nile Virus may be new to humans, but they are old news to other species. These and other emerging infectious diseases have recently added humans to the list of hosts they infect. An evolutionary perspective can help us better understand and, we hope, control this problem.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Evolution: Education and Outreach

Resource type: Article

Webcast: From butterflies to humans
In lecture four of a four part series, evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll uses the developmental genetics of insects to explain how old genes can learn new tricks and how this can help us understand human evolution.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Resource type: Video Lecture

Webcast: The science of evolution
Evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll introduces the field of Evo-Devo, using examples from fruit flies, butterflies, and icefish to explain how this research is transforming our understanding of evolution.
This video is available from the New York Times website.

Audience: 9-12

Source: New York Times

Resource type: Video

What did T. Rex Taste Like?
In this web-based module students are introduced to cladistics, which organizes living things by common ancestry and evolutionary relationships.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Online activity or lab

Solving the Mystery of the Neandertals
An interactive and engaging web activity that compares the number of mutations in the mitochondrial genomes to determine ancestry and relatedness.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Dolan DNA Learning Center

Resource type: Online activity or lab

Understanding Macroevolution Through Evograms
Evograms convey information about how a group of organisms and their particular features evolved. This article explains how to read evograms and delves into the evolutionary history of whales, tetrapods, mammals, birds, and humans.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Article

Origami Birds
Students build and evolve and modify paper-and-straw “birds” to simulate natural selection acting on random mutations.

Audience: 9-12

Source: ENSI

Resource type: Classroom activity

Interactive investigation: The arthropod story
This interactive investigation delves into the amazing world of the arthropods and examines their success and their evolutionary constraints.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Online activity or lab

Similarities and differences: Understanding homology and analogy
This interactive investigation explains what homologies and analogies are, how to recognize them, and how they evolve.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Online activity or lab

Chromosome Comparison 2: Comparison of Human and Chimp Chromosomes
Students observe that the banding patterns seen on stained chromosomes from humans and chimpanzees show striking similarities. Possible evolutionary relationships are explored, as are the chromosomes and relationships of other apes.

Audience: 9-12

Source: ENSI

Resource type: Lab activity

A Strange Fish Indeed: The “Discovery” of a Living Fossil
Through a series of fictionalized diary entries, this case recounts the 1939 discovery by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer (and identification by J.L.B. Smith) of a living coelacanth, a fish believed to have been extinct for 70 million years.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Grant, Robert

Resource type: Classroom activity

An antipodal mystery
The discovery of the platypus had the scientific world in an uproar with its mammal-like and bird-like features. How was one to classify the platypus? This case study uses this issue to model the scientific process, with scientists arguing, debating, collecting more evidence, and revising their opinions as new data become available.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Herreid, Clyde Freeman

Resource type: Classroom activity

Hominid Cranium Comparison (The "Skulls" Lab)
Students describe, measure and compare cranial casts from contemporary apes, modern humans, and fossil hominids to discover some of the similarities and differences between these forms and to see the pattern leading to modern humans.

Audience: 9-12

Source: ENSI

Resource type: Classroom activity

Evo in the news: One small fossil, one giant step for polar bear evolution
This news brief from April 2010 describes what scientists have learned by extracting DNA from a polar bear fossil more than 100,000 years old. Though the fossil itself was just a fragment of the skeleton—the lower left portion of the jaw, still containing a tooth—the DNA had a lot to say about polar bear evolution.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Tracking SARS back to its source
This news brief, from January of 2006, traces the source of the SARS virus. Using phylogenetics, biologists have come up with a plausible path of transmission which may help us prevent future outbreaks of diseases such as HIV, SARS, and West Nile virus.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: A fish of a different color
This news brief, from February 2006, describes how a mutated zebrafish gene may help us understand human evolution and the genes underlying human skin color. Humans and zebrafish both inherited the same pigmentation gene from their common ancestor.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Evolutionary evidence takes the stand
This news brief, from January of 2007, describes the role of phylogenetic evidence in a Libyan court case. Six medical workers have been convicted of injecting children with HIV-tainted blood - but the evolutionary history of the virus paints a different picture.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Seeing the tree for the twigs
Recent research has revealed that, in at least some ways, chimpanzees have evolved more than humans have. This news brief from May 2007 delves into this finding further and, in the process, debunks common misperceptions of human evolution.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Got lactase?
The ability to digest milk is a recent evolutionary innovation that has spread through some human populations. This news brief from April 2007 describes how evolution has allowed different human populations to take advantage of the nutritional possibilities of dairying and links evolution with the prevalence of lactose tolerance among people of different ethnicities.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Genealogy enthusiasts mine DNA for clues to evolutionary history
This news brief, from November 2007, turns an evolutionary lens on businesses that use DNA for genealogy research and, in the process, illuminates what their genetic tests really track.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: The new shrew that's not
This news brief from March of 2008 describes scientists' discovery of a new mammal species, a giant elephant shrew. Though elephant shrews resemble regular shrews, recent genetic evidence suggests that elephant shrews actually sprang from a much older (and perhaps more charismatic) branch of the tree of life - the one belonging to elephants and their relatives.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Evolution in the fast lane?
Have humans, with all of our technological advances, exempted ourselves from further evolution? Perhaps not. This news brief, from February 2008, examines genetic research which suggests that human evolution may haved actually accelerated in our recent history.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: HIV's not-so-ancient history
First described in 1981, HIV is a distinctly modern disease. But for how long before its discovery did HIV lurk unnoticed in human populations? This news brief from November 2008 describes new research offering insight into when (and how) HIV got its start.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: The evolutionary history of jogging
This news brief from March 2010 describes a new fitness trend: barefoot running. Though it might sound like just another fitness fad, soon to go the way of hula-hoops or jazzercise, this trend has a surprising connection to evolution.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Classification and Evolution
Students construct an evolutionary tree of imaginary animals (Caminalcules) to illustrate how modern classification schemes attempt to reflect evolutionary history.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Gendron, Robert

Resource type: Lab activity

Mantis shrimp shoulder their evolutionary baggage and bluff
Like all organisms, mantis shrimp carry baggage from their evolutionary history. Find out how this baggage has coaxed them into a deadly bluffing game.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Article

Bringing homologies into focus
There's more to homologies and analogies than the iconic examples (e.g., the tetrapod limb) found in every high school textbook. This article goes beyond the basics to explore the many evolutionary scenarios that result in homoplasies and the many levels at which homologies might occur.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Evolution: Education and Outreach

Resource type: Article

Variability and Selection in Natural Populations of Wood Lice
In this lab, students measure the amount of variation in a natural population of terrestrial wood lice and then determine which traits are subject to selection by predators by performing a simulated predation experiment.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Berkelhamer, Rudi

Resource type: Lab activity

How boogieing birds evolved: The work of Kim Bostwick
This research profile follows ornithologist Kim Bostwick through the jungles of Ecuador and the halls of museums as she investigates the evolution of an exotic bird's complex mating dance.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Research profile

Investigating a Deep Sea Mystery
In this lab activity, students examine authentic morphological and phylogenetic data of three fish families and then pose and test alternative hypotheses about the fishes' classification.

Audience: 9-12

Source: ETOL

Resource type: Lab activity

Evo in the News: A new look at dinosaur fossils pushes back the evolution of feathered wings
This news brief, from November 2012, describes what a new dinosaur fossil from North America has to tell us about the evolution of feathers.

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Sound trees
Students learn how spectrograms represent sound variation and then examine the sounds of owls for traits that might be useful in determining evolutionary relationships. They compare these traits to morphological ones and test their hypotheses.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Resource type: Lab activity

The Making of the Fittest: The Birth and Death of Genes
This 13-minute film describes how scientists have pieced together the evolutionary history of the Antarctic icefish by studying its genome – an excellent case study for genetic evolution as both the gain and loss of genes have led to key adaptations.

Audience: 9-12

Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Resource type: Video

Evo in the news: No more mystery meat
This news brief from April 2013 describes new research on the origin of American cattle breeds. The story told by the cows' genes crisscrosses the trajectory of human evolutionary history — from wild aurochs that lived alongside Neanderthals, to Christopher Columbus and, ultimately, the American West …

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: The legless lizards of LAX
This news brief from October 2013 describes the discovery of four new species of legless lizard. Why don't we just call these animals snakes? Because of their evolutionary history...

Audience: 9-12

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

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