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Evo in the news: One small fossil, one giant step for polar bear evolution


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This news brief from April 2010 describes what scientists have learned by extracting DNA from a polar bear fossil more than 100,000 years old. Though the fossil itself was just a fragment of the skeleton—the lower left portion of the jaw, still containing a tooth—the DNA had a lot to say about polar bear evolution.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

30 minutes

Teaching tips:
This article encourages students to reason about scientific data. It includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as a video podcast. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.

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

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

  • Geological change and biological evolution are linked.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

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

  • Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.

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

  • Rates of evolution vary.

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