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Lesson summary for:
Exploring KT extinction patterns


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Students will be introduced to a data set about mollusk genera that survived and did not survive the KT extinction event. They will formulate hypotheses regarding extinction patterns and mechanisms and analyze the data for evidence relevant to those hypotheses.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

2-3 hours

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

  • During the course of evolution, only a small percentage of species have survived until today.

  • Background extinctions are a normal occurrence.

  • Mass extinctions occur.

  • Rates of extinction vary.

  • Extinction can result from environmental change.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

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

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations.

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

Teacher background:

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