Visualizing life on Earth: data interpretation in evolution
by the Understanding Evolution team
This pattern might seem obvious. "Of course, the tropics are rich and the poles are barren. What do you expect? It's cold up there!" But it doesn't have to be that way. On an alien world, the poles might be packed with life and the equator a wasteland. Or life could be spread out evenly over the whole planet. Why is life on Earth distributed the way it is and not some other way?
In this module, you will examine the same data that scientists have used to try to answer this question and can compare your own ideas to those that scientists have come up with. You'll dive into the past to try to understand why species live where they do today and figure out how evolution has shaped these patterns. Click the Next button to get started.
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Freshwater shrimp photo provided by Micrographica; tiger photo provided by Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences; mushroom photo © Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College; tundra photo by Dr. Robert T. and Margaret Orr © 2004 California Academy of Sciences
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