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Lines of evidence: The science of evolution


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The theory of evolution is broadly accepted by scientists — and for good reason! Learn about the diverse and numerous lines of evidence that support the theory of evolution.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

30-40 minutes

Teaching tips:
Class discussion could enhance student learning on this topic.

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)

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Fossils provide evidence of past life. (LS4.A)

  • The sequence of forms in the fossil record is reflected in the sequence of the rock layers in which they are found and indicates the order in which they evolved. (LS4.A)

  • The fossil record contains organisms with transitional features.

  • There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms. (LS4.A)

  • All life forms share fundamental similarities. (LS4.A)

  • Anatomical similarities of living things reflect common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • There are similarities in the cell function of all organisms.

  • Artificial selection provides a model for natural selection. (LS4.B)

  • People selectively breed domesticated plants and animals to produce offspring with preferred characteristics. (LS4.B)

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P6, NOS3)

  • Scientists use multiple lines of evidence to study life over time.

  • Scientists use anatomical features to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)

  • Scientists use fossils to learn about past life. (LS4.A, ESS1.C)

  • Scientists use geological evidence to establish the age of fossils.

  • Scientists use artificial selection as a model to learn about natural selection. (P2)

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observations, comparisons, and modeling) to collect evidence. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)

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

Teacher background:

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