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Lesson summary for:
Modeling Evolutionary Relationships with Trees

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Overview:
In this lesson, students will examine a beautiful tree of life poster by artist Ray Troll and use it as a launchpad to explore evolutionary, or phylogenetic trees. Students will take a pre-assessment to address misconceptions about phylogenetic trees before completing a modeling activity to give them a better understanding of how trees are used to model evolutionary relationships.

Author/Source:
Shape of Life

Grade level:
6-8

Time:
100-120 minutes

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

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

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

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

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

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

  • Evolutionary relationships may be represented by branching trees (i.e. phylogenies or cladograms).

Teacher background:

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