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Lesson summary for:
Stories from the Fossil Record


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This web-based module provides students with a basic understanding of how fossils can be used to interpret the past.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

One to two class periods.

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.

  • Tectonic plate movement has affected the evolution and distribution of living things. (ESS1.C)

  • Living things have had a major influence on the composition of the atmosphere and on the surface of the planet. (ESS2.E)

  • Mass extinctions occur.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

  • The fossil record contains organisms with transitional features.

  • 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.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)

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

  • Scientists use the geographic distribution of fossils and living things to learn about the history of life.

Teacher background:

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