Preparing a display to educate the community about biological changes in
the area. Students learn about the evidence for changing life and the
factors that can cause biological changes over time.
Understand how biological changes are tied to all of the Earth
Participate in scientific inquiry and construct logical conclusions
based on evidence.
Appreciate the value of Earth science information in improving the
quality of life, globally and within the community.
Activity 1 -- The Fossil Record and
To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:
This page includes an overview of an entire powerpoint presentation
plus annotated notes along side about food webs. In addition,
part of the notes focus on a case study involving sea otters in the
This college web site provides information on the the food chain and
the complexity of food webs. Information on the relationship to
biomass and trophic levels is also explored.
A section in this online publication, this page provides a little
background to how studying fossils became an important part of
understanding geologic time.
The plants and animals found in concretions recovered from the
Francis Creek Shale are some of the most exciting and important
fossils that have been found in the state of Illinois. These fossils
are known as the Mazon Creek fossils, because they were originally
found along Mazon Creek in northeastern Illinois. This exhibit shows
some of the more interesting and dramatic types of fossils recovered
from these remarkable deposits.
To complete the Inquiring Further section of this activity: To learn
more about taphonomy and forensic science, visit the following web
The text includes a similar to other discussions, the page also
features a table that summarizes different taphonomic indicators and
their paleoenvironmental implications. At the bottom of the
page, there is a link to a separate article about preservation.
The Young Forensic Scientists Forum (YFSF) is a group within the
American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) that is dedicated to the
education, enrichment and development of emerging forensic scientists
and future leaders of the field.
To learn more about common geological settings for preservation, visit
the following web sites:
Considering that "Hardly any substances were selected for their
properties after death," it is remarkable what we know about organisms
that lived millions of years ago. Find out more about why the
depositional setting that is the organism's final resting place is
important if the organism is to become part of the fossil record.
Scientists have divided the broad spectrum of climates and
ecological communities found on Earth into biomes in different ways
- some with many divisions, some with only a few. This site
focuses on some of the common biomes with photos that accompany
separate descriptions of each.
Check out this site with an energy pyramid for several different
biomes. Click on a "K Calorie Pyramid" link under each biome
(for example, Hot Desert at http://www.world-builders.org/lessons/less/biomes/desert/hot-despy.html)
to see the number of calories the carnivores must obtain from the
herbivores to survive.
To learn more about Alaskan animal adaptations to climate, visit the
following web site:
By analyzing pollen from well-dated sediment cores collected at
critical sites, it is possible to obtain high-resolution records of
vegetation change with decadal-scale resolution and to document
community changes over the last few centuries and millennia.
What is paleoclimatology? How do we measure paleoclimate? What
can paleoclimatology tell us about climate change relevant to
society in the future? Find out the answers to these
Learn about current research at the Goddard Institute for Space
Studies that centers upon the use of global climate models (GCMs) to
generate simulations of past climates.
The Quaternary Environments group at Brown in collaboration with
Professor Patrick Bartlein of the Department of Geography at the
University of Oregon have mapped the changing spatial distributions
of pollen percentage for over 50 taxa from 21,000 calendar years ago
to present. Maps of biomes derived from the pollen data and maps of
multiple taxa were also include to show how the vegetation
changed. *Unfortunately, there is a gap in the data available
on this site that covers most of the western United States.
During the Last 150,000 Years, Oak Ridge National
LaboratoryVegetation in North America has been continually
changing over the last 150,000 years. This page provides
brief descriptions and maps that detail these changes in smaller
units of time.
*The graphics are a little fuzzy, but the text descriptions are very
Internet access: to view information about distribution of animals
from the Late Pleistocene to the present, visit the following web
*The Faunmap site is currently under construction and the
interactive capabilities are not working (as of 7/30/02). In the
meantime, you can use a subset of the data to look at fauna
in the Los Angeles area from 40,000 years-present.
To complete the Inquiring Further section of this activity:
To learn more about carbon-14 dating techniques, visit the following web
The information on this page answers the following questions: How was
radiocarbon dating developed? How does radiocarbon dating
work? What kind of things can you date using radiocarbon?
How did Libby test his method and find out if it worked
correctly? How much sample material do you need to date using
radiocarbon? How much does it cost to date using radiocarbon
dating? What are the oldest things that can be radiocarbon
dated? What is the youngest thing that can be radiocarbon dated?
This brief overview addresses whether human hunting or environmental
changes were to blame for the Late Pleistocene extinctions. Plus
it answers whether or not North American animals went extinct at this
particular time in geologic history.
For two days in April 1997 three hundred scientists, journalists,
policy makers and people like yourself gathered at the American
Museum of Natural History to participate in the spring symposium
titled "Humans and Other Catastrophes."
Three main hypotheses surfaced as to the source of the extinctions at
the end of the Pleistocene: Overkill, Disease, and Climate. Read
about each theory and see which one you agree with.
Back to topActivity
-- The Mesozoic-Cenozoic Boundary Event
To learn more about this topic:
1. The Extinction Event at the End of the Mesozoic
This site offers several pages about the mass extinction at the end
the Cretaceous period (at the end of the Mesozoic Era) and the
beginning of the Tertiary Period (early Cenozoic Era) including the
Dr. Brian Huber - Dr. Huber is a micropaleontologist from
the National Museum of Natural History and member of the Ocean
Drilling Program expedition team that recovered the deep-sea
core featured in the exhibit.
See more links below for Part A of this investigation.
This site is under construction but it already has detailed
information. In addition to a description of the asteroid
hypothesis, the homage links browses to information about local and
global effects of the impact, plus a glossary under the Students and
Interested in finding more resources about the K/T Boundary, check
out this reading list. It is worth noting that most of the
list is of particular scientific papers.
Part A: Changes in Climate and Life at the End of the Mesozoic Era
To complete the investigation, each student group will need:
Internet access: to view information about paleoclimate before and
after the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, visit the following web
Shifts in distribution of plants and animals, barriers to movement,
changing patterns of precipitation and evaporation, and other topics
are explored at this site. It also provides a list of sensitive
ecosystems ordered by biome, ecosystem, or landscape type, key
climatic variables, and implications for biodiversity.
Biodiversity: buffer against climate change, Environmental News
Get three different opinions about mass extinctions when three
geologists answered the following questions: what ever happened
to the theory of periodic mass extinctions, which stated that major
extinctions occur every 26 million years? Is it widely accepted? And
when was the last such extinction--have there really been two of them
since the dinosaurs died off 65 million years ago?
Also check out the links to sites about mass extinctions in Activity
To learn more about originations, visit the following web sites:
These lecture notes are clear out of context (of the lecture) and
address how originations are connected to mass extinctions.
Download state geologic maps at About.com's
Maps - informative review on how to read and interpret
Geologic maps: Regional (two or more
The on-line bookstore of
the American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Topographic maps: Local
The United States Geological Survey MapFinder
allows you to order 7.5 minute maps online for $4 per map plus $5
s/h per order.
The United States Geological Survey maintains a list of Map
Dealers. Click on your state to obtain a list of
retailers who sell maps.
The United States Geological Survey National Geologic Map Database
site on How
find topographic maps
TopoZone site allows you
to download topographic maps (including USGS maps) for free, at
various scales (from 1:100,000 to 1:24,000).
MapServer offers free
online viewing of topo, nautical and aeronautical charts plus high
altitude digital ortho quads (nav photos). (www.maptech.com and
General Map Resources:
An excellent list of map resources available online can be found
on the Central Michigan University
Resources for Earth Science and Geography Instruction web
site. Included are links to sites to make maps, as well as
links to free downloadable outline maps, satellite imagery, GPS, and
"Maps" - USGS Earth
Science Information Center, includes general map information, from
how to read maps to how to obtain them. Also includes links to
further information regarding topographic, thematic, planetary maps,
and more. (http://ask.usgs.gov/maps.html)
Geographic (maps and videos): 1-800-962-1643
of the United States" - USGS fact sheet, contains a series of
depictions of the United States, along with information on how to
obtain additional US maps.
the World" - USGS fact sheet, contains a series of world maps,
including outline maps, seismicity maps, and political maps.
Also contains information for ordering more specific world maps.
Maps" - USGS site of a variety of US maps that are available
online, including shaded relief maps, aquifer maps, and further
information on how to order maps not available online.
Published by the American Geological Institute, this magazine reviews
current issues in the Earth Sciences and can serve as a valuable
supplemental resource for teachers and students alike. Visit the
web site for online
articles and information about obtaining a one-year subscription
(40% discount for AGI Member Society members; 65% discount for
Excellent sources of high-school level articles are in both National
Geographic (which often has maps), and Science News
(describing the most recent and interesting events in scientific