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Interview: Geerat Vermeij on the Fossil record


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This interview with MacArthur Fellow and paleobiologist, Geerat Vermeij, covers much ground, including adaptations in the mollusks he studies, evolutionary arms races, punctuated equilibrium, extinctions, macroevolution, and the value of diversity.

California Academy of Sciences

Grade level:

20-30 minutes

Teaching tips:
The writing level of this piece is fairly advanced. This article doesn't go into much detail on the concepts it touches; however, it would make a great capstone or kick-off reading for a lesson on natural selection and arms races. Student learning on the topics covered by this interview may be enhanced by class discussion.

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

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit. (LS4.C)

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • 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)

  • The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.

  • Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)

  • Rates of evolution vary.

Teacher background:

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