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Online Lessons for Teachers: Learning Evolution

LESSON 3: 

What Is the Evidence for Evolution?

Back to LESSON 3

Activity 1: Evolution and Time

Activity 1: Teacher Notes

Activity 2: Teacher Notes

Materials You'll Need:
•  Large paper (24" x 36")
•  Markers
•  Rulers

Activity 2: Evidence for Evolution WebQuest

Theodosius Dobzhansky, a geneticist whose work influenced 20th century research on evolutionary theory, said, "Nothing in biology makes sense, except in light of evolution." This quote emphasizes the role of evolution as the most important unifying principle in biology. Living things might, at first, seem very diverse, but closer inspection reveals a surprising unity. This unity, or common ancestry, can be explained by evolutionary theory. With such an important theory at stake, it is essential to understand the evidence upon which it is based.

The Task
In this Evolution WebQuest you will investigate a variety of types of evidence for evolution. Your team will be responsible for learning about fossil evidence, structural evidence, and genetic evidence for evolution and presenting this information to the class.


The Process

1.  

If you are in school, your teacher will assign you to a group of six researchers. (If you are working alone, you can look at a few sites from each specialty.)

2.  

Each group will have specialists in anatomy and physiology, paleontology, and molecular biology. Anatomists study the structure of organisms, physiologists study the function of organisms, molecular biologists study genetics, and paleontologists study fossils.

3. 

Review the sites that apply to your specialty.

4.  

Find four to five examples of evidence for evolution. Try to find specific examples, so that when you present to the class you will all have different examples to share. Also, try to find the date on which the evidence was discovered.

5.  

The recommended sites are just examples. Feel free to search for your own.

Anatomists
• Evidence Supporting Biological Evolution (see "Common Structures")
• How Scientists Study Evolution (search for "Evolution," click on "How Scientists Study Evolution," and look for "Anatomical Similarities")
• What Is Morphology and Why Is It Important?
• Fossils Can Show How Certain Features Evolved
• It's a Bird, It's a Dinosaur?
• Dunking the Trunk (search for "Dunking the Trunk")


Molecular Biologists
• Evolution Makes Sense of Homologies
• Axing the Family Tree
• Evidence of Evolution
• Chemical Clues to Darwin's Abominable Mystery
• Salvaged DNA Leads to Neanderthals' Mystique


Paleontologists
• Fossils Can Show How Certain Features Evolved
• Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ
• Mother of All Mammals (search for "Andre Wyss" and "Andrew Knoll")
• Shaking the Family Tree
• Evolution Makes Sense of Homologies
• The Nature of Fossils
• Dating Fossils
• Getting into the Fossil Record


6.  

 Reconvene with your group, or work on your own, to create a presentation chart that looks like this:

Evidence for Evolution

Special Areas of Interest

Evidence (descriptions or drawings)

Significance

Anatomy

Molecular Biology

  

Paleontology

  

(If you are working alone, try to find two examples for each specialty.)

7.  

 Present this chart to the class.


Conclusion
This WebQuest was designed to help you locate evidence for evolution from different areas of science. New evidence for evolution is being discovered every day. No evidence has been found which cannot be explained by evolution. If the future continues as in the past, we can look forward to more information about the genomes of earth's creatures, new discoveries in the fossil record, and the finding of new species in places like the ocean depths and the tropical rainforests. One thing is certain, more evidence will be added to support the theory of evolution.

 

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