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In this lab activity, students examine authentic morphological and phylogenetic data of three fish families and then pose and test alternative hypotheses about the fishes' classification.
4 - 5 class periods
Though this is a multi-day lab, it is worth the investment in time as it engages students in the process of science while also reinforcing multiple evolutionary concepts.
Students should have a basic understanding of how to read and interpret phylogenetic trees.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.
- Our understanding of life through time is based upon multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use the similarity of DNA nucleotide sequences to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Scientists use anatomical evidence to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Scientists use developmental evidence to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Classification is based on evolutionary relationships.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.
- Authentic scientific controversy and debate within the community contribute to scientific progress. (P7)
- Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)