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Lesson summary for:
Ancient fossils and modern climate change: The work of Jennifer McElwain

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Overview:
Wondering how global warming will affect our planet? Scientist Jennifer McElwain studies the fossil record in order to learn more about how global warming has affected life on Earth in the past and how it might affect life on Earth in the future.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
40 minutes

Teaching tips:
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Concepts:
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.

  • During the course of evolution, only a small percentage of species have survived until today.

  • Mass extinctions occur.

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)

  • 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.

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.

  • Extinction can result from environmental change.

Teacher background:

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