I'M A FOSSIL, YOU'RE A FOSSIL!
Grades 9 - 12
In this lesson students will explore some of the evolutionary
that have occurred within the primates: monkeys, apes, and man. They will
consider some evidence within the fields of comparative biochemistry and
comparative anatomy. They will also explore Charles Darwin, the real
as well as the scientist. Approximate time: at least 2-3 class
ORGANIC EVOLUTION: Program 1: In the Beginning", and
2: Darwin, Naturally"
Students will be able to:
- draw conclusions about the personality/behavior of Charles Darwin;
- compare segments of the hemoglobin molecule in five different
- compare skulls and jaws of three primates to observe structural
and similarities as evidence for evolutionary relationships;
- construct graphs of height over time after reading "Time"
Magazine's "How Man Began";
- construct a graph showing the increases in height and weight of
hominid and human species;
- determine the relationship between height and weight in early
Per Student Group:
- student Lab Packet
- graph paper
- Darwin's picture
- Darwin's notes on marriage
- "Time" article (March 1994), "How Man Began",
- "Discover Magazine" article (October 1994), "Ascent
of the Dog",. pp 92-98
- Question sheet for "Ascent of the Dog"
- Focus for Viewing handout
- several sheets of newsprint
- colored markers
- masking tape
- books, articles, audio-visual materials on evolution
- amino acid
Divide students into groups of four. Working relationships should include
a chief investigator, a graphics expert, a researcher and an analysis
Introduce this topic by handing out Darwin's picture to each student in
the group. Do not tell them who the man is at this time. Allow them five
minutes to analyze the picture and record a list of
traits that they infer from the picture. Have the analysis expert post
on newsprint and tape on the wall or blackboard. Identify the picture and
pass out Darwin's notes on marriage to each student. Again, allow five to
seven minutes for students to add to their original list of traits
addition or deletion of what they originally recorded. Finally, have each
student write down their definition of evolution. These definitions are
to be kept by the chief investigator.
Explain to the students that they will be investigating some old and some
new support for Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Not a bad idea to talk
how cooperative and collaborative learning needs full participation by
To successfully gain understanding of evolution as a central,
unifying role in nature, and therefore in biology, it is important to
evolution from an historical and Darwinian view. The Organic Evolution
from TVOntario allows visualization of both these perspectives. The first
program will give review components in taxonomy, microscopy, convergent
and divergent evolution as well as acquired characteristics theory. To
students a specific focus for viewing, distribute the worksheet entitled
"Questions to Be Answered While Viewing" and direct students to
the first question.
BEGIN viewing Program 1:"In the Beginning"
at the title frame and STOP at the section that says,
Focus student attention on the question, "What do you think the
meant by Charles Darwin's ideas causing trouble in paradise?" Take
five to ten minutes to foster discussion. Answer: Darwin's ideas would
against creationism, acquired characteristics and the establishment.
Guide students to question 12 on the FOCUS FOR VIEWING
"Describe in your own words what the vertical moving graphic is
at the very beginning of Program 2:"Darwin, Naturally".
START TAPE #2 at its title credit and PAUSE after the graphic has
rolled by. Have students respond to question 2. ANSWER: Change over
Direct students to questions three through six, and tell them to look for
the answers to these questions as they watch the next segment.
START TAPE and continue through the segment when dogs run
over and old man.
At this point you may wish to stop and assign reading of the Discover
article "Ascent of the Dog." Questions/Answers fro reading may
be found at the end of this lesson.
Focus student attention on question seven of the FOCUS FOR VIEWING
"What is the name of the man who influenced Darwin?" as they
the next segment. ANSWER: Thomas Malthus.
START TAPE and PAUSE at the clip which says
breed unchecked, on screen, elephants have their trunk entwined and
in the screen's frame.
Direct students to watch the next segment for answering question eight of
the FOCUS FOR VIEWING handout, "What keeps animal and plant
in check?" Answer: struggle for existence and "the struggle
___________ and _____________ species." Answer: same and
RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at the frame which lists the
Direct students to watch the next segment to answer question nine on the
FOCUS FOR VIEWING HANDOUT, "What factors influence species' struggle
for survival?" Answer: climate and food
RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at frame showing populations
Direct students to watch the next segment to answer question 10 on the
FOR VIEWING worksheet,"What principles did Darwin observe?"
Principle I - More organisms reproduce than can survive and Principle II
- There is variation. "From these principles Darwin formed his
of ________________." Answer: natural selection.
RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at the frame showing natural
Focus student attention on question eleven from the handout, "What
was Darwin's greatest support for his theory?" Answer: fossils.
RESUME PLAY and PAUSE after the clip showing large skull
the term "fossil evidence."
Focus student attention on question twelve: "What did Charles Lyell
offer to support Darwin?" Answer: the Principle of
RESUME PLAY and PAUSE when you see the spider web
signpost that says watching mountain erode. You may wish to discuss this
principle a bit with an eye to a review of some earth science.
RESUME PLAY and continue to the end of the tape.
Remind students that armed with their new-found information
they will now assume roles of scientists researching evidence that
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Students will work in groups of four and submit one finding from each
Each group of four people will appoint a chief investigator, a graphics
expert, a researcher and an analysis expert. Al scientists will convene
and pool their research before submitting a final product. The chief
will keep the laboratory copy he/she receives as the presentation copy.
The graphics expert will keep his/her graph paper as the presentation
The researcher will be responsible for library/computer research as well
as assigning such tasks to group members. The analysis expert will make
sure that there is consensus from the group as well as keep all parties
Students will be given the two packets entitled,
Changes in Primates" and "Let's Compare Height and Weight in
Ancestors". Have the cooperative learning groups come to consensus
and submit a final report using the appropriate format for lab reporting.
A suggested format is found in the appendix of this lesson.
- Invite an expert on evolution into your class to speak. A good
could be a professor from a local university.
- Create a computer HyperCard stack showing Charles Darwin's
to science which could be presented at the school's Science Fair.
- Identify examples of evolution in action.
- Check out other sources of Darwin at the National Center for
Education by writing to email@example.com.
- Or, using the World Wide Web, go to the URL http://www.yahoo.com to
search for more information about Darwin by keyword search.
Write a letter to Charles Darwin. You have studied his perplexity about
the prevalence of variety despite natural selection and you should be
to explain to him the parts of his theory that are still strongly used
how modern genetics and biochemistry have resulted in some modifications
to his work.
Write a poem involving evolution and have it published in the school
Write and perform a short play or skit about Darwin and his
Pretend you are a journalist and conduct a question/answer interview with
Research your choice of the following men more for a personality profile
than for their academic achievements: Bishop Paley, Carolus Lennaeus,
van Leewenhoek, Le Compte de Buffon, LaMarck, Thomas Huxley, Charles
Remembers scientists are people, too!
Create a poster display showing support for the theory of evolution.
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED READINGS:
Boberg, Dorothy Kurth, Evolution and Reason - Beyond Darwin, North
Hollywood, California: Clarion Pacific Publishers, 1993.
Jones, Steve; Martin, Robert; Philbeam, David, The Cambridge
of Human Evolution, New York, Cambridge University Press,
Lemonick, Michael D., "How Man Began," Time, Mar 14 94,
Weaver, Kenneth, "The Search for Our Ancestors," National
vol. 168, No. 5, Nov 85, pp 560-629
Master Teacher: Sandra Latourelle
Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting/Plattsburgh, NY
NOTE TO TEACHER
Humans are really fascinated by humanity. We see ourselves in center
int he theater of evolution. We are abundant, we occupy every corner of
this biosphere and we impact our environment as our ecological appetite
becomes more and more voracious.
The study of evolution is not a single science. It requires the
of genetics, morphology, physiology, and behavior. We can probably fee
to say that most human features and physiology did not evolve in a single
step, nor together as one package.
Most biologists believe that all creatures are interrelated and have
from a common ancestor. The greatest and most adamant proponent of this
idea was Charles Darwin. His theory of evolution was set to print in 1859
in "The Origin of the Species."
Darwin's platform "descent with modification' is really quite
It has four main tenets:
1. organisms differ from each other in ways that are
This theory of evolution tells that we are all living fossils. We
within ourselves genes of our ancestors. Darwin used comparative anatomy
to support his theory. A triumph of molecular biology has been the
of thousands of other clues of relatedness in our genes.
2. more are born than can survive - a struggle for existence
3. certain inherited variants increase the chances of their carriers
surviving and reproducing - natural selection
4. selection leads to the accumulation of favored variants, which over
a long period of time produce new forms of life - the origin of the
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