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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

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Found 26 resources for the concept: Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations

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: 13-16

Source: Herreid, Clyde Freeman

Resource type: Classroom activity

Visualizing life on Earth: Data interpretation in evolution
This web-based module leads students through an exploration of the patterns in the diversity of life across planet Earth. Students are scaffolded as they practice data interpretation and scientific reasoning skills.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Online activity or lab

Evo in the news: Where did all of Madagascar's species come from?
Recently, political unrest in Madagascar has threatened to set back the island’s expanding conservation efforts, and criminals have taken advantage of the instability, looting protected forests for rare wood. This news story from October 2009 turns back the clock to consider the biogeographic processes that made Madagascar into a biodiversity hotspot in the first place.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Where species come from
Lush tropical ecosystems house many times more species than temperate or Arctic regions. This news brief from November 2006 discusses the evolutionary explanation for this diversity trend and reveals why threats to tropical ecosystems may threaten diversity on a global scale.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: When it comes to evolution, headlines often get it wrong
Newly discovered fossils are prompting some scientists to consider a minor revision of the relationships shown on the human family tree. This news brief from September 2007 clarifies the occasionally misleading news coverage of the story.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the News: "Error. Greed does not compute."
This news brief from May 2011 describes how researchers are using tiny robots to study the evolution of altruistic behaviors.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Spreading disease on evolutionary timescales
Most infectious diseases that we are familiar with are passed from human to human; however, on evolutionary timescales, pathogens don't necessarily respect species boundaries. This news brief from November 2010 examines a recently discovered case of disease swapping among species involving a deadly strain of malaria.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the news: Toxic river means rapid evolution for one fish species
This news brief from March 2011 examines the genetic basis for the evolution of resistance to PCBs in the Hudson River tomcod. Though this is great for the tomcod, what might it mean for other organisms in the ecosystem?

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Island biogeography and evolution: Solving a phylogenetic puzzle using molecular genetics
Students focus on the evolution of three species of lizards using real data sets – geographical and geological data, then morphology, and finally molecular data – to determine possible phylogenetic explanations.

Audience: 13-16

Source: Filson, R.P.

Resource type: Lab activity

Investigating Common Descent: Formulating Explanations and Models
Students formulate explanations and models that simulate structural and biochemical data as they investigate the misconception that humans evolved from apes.

Audience: 13-16

Source: National Academy of Sciences

Resource type: Classroom activity

The Checks Lab
Students construct plausible scenarios using bank checks to learn how human values and biases influence observation and interpretation.

Audience: 13-16

Source: ENSI

Resource type: Classroom activity

Aloha, spider style! The work of Rosemary Gillespie
This research profile follows Dr. Rosemary Gillespie to Hawaii as she evaluates hypotheses about the evolution of the colorful happy-face spider.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Research profile

Using trees to understand plants: The work of Chelsea Specht
This research profile follows scientist Chelsea Specht as she pieces together the evolutionary history of tropical plants and their pollinators--and in the process, tries to figure out how to conserve endangered species.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Research profile

Parsimonious explanations for punctuated patterns
Punctuated equilibrium is sometimes erroneously cited as evidence that evolutionary biology still hasn't figured out how evolution works. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Punctuated equilibrium builds on (not tears down!) established evolutionary theory. Find out how the process works.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Audience: 13-16

Source: Evolution: Education and Outreach

Resource type: Article

Evo in the news: The evidence lines up in early mammal evolution
This news brief, from September 2011, describes the discovery of a new mammal species that highlights just how long mammals have been around. Back in the Jurassic, dinosaurs may have dominated terrestrial ecosystems, but they were not alone. Scurrying around their feet and clinging to the trees above them were the fuzzy ancestors of their successors.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Cells within cells: An extraordinary claim with extraordinary evidence
When biologist Lynn Margulis revived the strange-sounding idea that the merging of cells played a prominent role in the evolution of complex life, the scientific community roundly rejected the notion. Today, this idea is accepted as a textbook fact. Learn more about the evidence and social factors that spurred the acceptance of this key aspect of evolutionary theory.
This article is available from the Understanding Science website.

Audience: 13-16

Source: Understanding Science

Resource type: Article

Using trees to uproot HIV: The work of Satish Pillai
This research profile follows scientist Satish Pillai as he studies the evolution of HIV within infected individuals. His research uses the tools of phylogenetics to investigate vaccine development and the possibility of curing the disease.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Research profile

Stabilization of the fig-pollinator mutualism
Students read a 2008 paper on the role of parasites in stabilizing the fig-pollinator mutualism alongside an interactive guide that explains each section of the paper and draws the reader's attention to important points in the article.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Annotated journal article

Journal Club Toolkit
This set of teaching materials aims to help instructors engage their students with the primary literature in evolutionary biology through a “journal club” that can be implemented in a discussion section or smaller class. It includes several helpful tools: annotated articles, a reading guide, additional suggested reading, and tips for students leading a discussion of a journal article.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Annotated journal article

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: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Research profile

CSI: Olduvai Gorge. The work of Jackson Njau
This research profile follows paleoanthropologist Jackson Njau as he investigates ancient predators, like crocodiles and large cats, in an effort to understand how these organisms shaped the evolution of our human ancestors.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Research profile

Evo in the News: Lessons for today in ancient mass extinctions
This news brief, from May 2012, describes new research on the end-Ordovician mass extinction and the lessons we might glean about extinctions going on around us today.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

Evo in the News: Grasshoppers change their tune. Is it evolution in action?
This news brief, from December 2012, describes new research into how traffic noise affects insect populations. Several hypotheses to explain the change in grasshoppers' songs are examined.

Audience: 13-16

Source: UC Museum of Paleontology

Resource type: Evo in the News article

¿De donde vienen todas las especies de Madagascar?
Continuando la celebración del tema de Octubre en el Año de la Ciencia, las ciencias de la tierra y el planeta Tierra, la historia de este mes se centra en cómo la geografía y la geología han moldeado la evolución de la vida en uno de los lugares más singulares de la Tierra. Madagascar, la cuarta isla más grande del mundo, se encuentra en el Océano Índico a varios cientos de kilómetros de la costa sureste de África y constituye el hogar de una notable variedad de especies vegetales y animales, incluido el aye aye, la fossa, el camaleón y el árbol baobab...

Audience: 13-16

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: 13-16

Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Resource type: Lab activity

Teaching the Process of Molecular Phylogeny and Systematics: A Multi-Part Inquiry-Based Exercise
Students explore molecular data from Homo sapiens and four related primates and develop hypotheses regarding the ancestry of these five species by analyzing DNA sequences, protein sequences, and chromosomal maps.

Audience: 13-16

Source: Lents, Nathan, et al

Resource type: Lab activity

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