Delve into our current understandings of the origins of life and how scientists are able to investigate the details of such ancient events.
This article is located within Evolution 101.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This tutorial is fairly advanced and may be more appropriate for an AP biology course. The tutorial also has many nice tie-ins to concepts in genetics, such as DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis.
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)
- Through billions of years of evolution, life forms have continued to diversify in a branching pattern, from single-celled ancestors to the diversity of life on Earth today.
- Life forms of the past were in some ways very different from living forms of today, but in other ways very similar. (LS4.A)
- Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)
- Life on Earth 3.8 billion years ago consisted of one-celled organisms similar to present-day bacteria.
- The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.
- There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms.
- Similarities among existing organisms provide evidence for evolution. (LS4.A)
- There are similarities in the cell function of all organisms. (LS4.A)
- All life forms use the same basic DNA building blocks. (LS4.A)
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- 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.
- The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.
- Our understanding of life through time is based upon multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.