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Lesson summary for:
Evolution and Phylogenetic Analysis

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Overview:
In a flexible multisession laboratory, students investigate concepts of phylogenetic analysis at both the molecular and the morphological level. Students finish by conducting their own analysis on a collections skeletons using the Mesquite software.

Author/Source:
Wilfred A. Franklin

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
two 3-hour sessions

Teaching tips:
The full activity requires access to a collection of skeletons representing the major phyla of vertebrates, a collection of primate skulls, or a collection of hominid skulls.

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

  • Similarities among existing organisms (including morphological, developmental, and molecular similarities) reflect common ancestry and provide evidence for evolution.

  • Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.

  • The principle of parsimony suggests that the phylogenetic hypothesis most likely to be true is the one requiring the fewest evolutionary changes.

Teacher background:

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