This news brief from November 2009 focuses on how changes in atmospheric chemistry may have factored into the evolution of life on Earth—specifically, life’s quadrillion-fold growth spurt from microscopic bacteria to organisms the size of the blue whale.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This article includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as a video podcast. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Living things have had a major influence on the composition of the atmosphere and on the surface of the planet. (ESS2.E)
- The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.
- 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.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.
- Rates of evolution vary.
- Environmental changes may provide opportunities that can influence natural selection. (LS4.B, LS4.C)