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Lesson summary for:
A Pleistocene Puzzle: Extinction in South America

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Overview:
In this comic, you'll follow the investigation of scientists Maria and Miguel as they solve a paleontological mystery. About 11,000 years ago, more than 80% of the large animal species in South America went extinct. Why did it happen? (Available in English and Spanish)

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
20 minutes

Teaching tips:
This comic includes a glossary and comprehension questions for classroom discussion or an independent assignment.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Life forms of the past were in some ways very different from living forms of today, but in other ways very similar. (LS4.A)

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • Mass extinctions occur.

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

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

  • There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms.

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)

  • 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 multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)

  • Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)

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

  • Scientists use physical, chemical, and geological evidence to establish the age of fossils.

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

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.

  • Extinction can result from environmental change.

  • Radiometric dating can often be used to determine the age of rock layers and, hence, the fossils embedded in them.

Teacher background:

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