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Lesson summary for:
Visualizing life on Earth: Data interpretation in evolution


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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.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

2 hours

Teaching tips:
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topic of ecosystems (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). Can be used as a homework assignment or as part of a lecture. Embedded multiple choice and "think about it" questions could be converted to "clicker" type questions for use during lecture. Many of these questions ask students to read and analyze graphs.

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.

  • Background extinctions are a normal occurrence.

  • Rates of extinction vary.

  • Rates of speciation vary.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

  • The fossil record documents patterns of extinction and the appearance of new forms.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence.

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations.

  • Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.

  • Scientists use experimental evidence to study evolutionary processes.

Teacher background:

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