Paleobio Home Educational Resources Paleobio Home
K-13 Lessons

  • Mystery Meat
    Students follow the steps of two scientists who used DNA analysis to reveal the species identifications of kujira (whale meat) from foreign markets. After briefly reading about the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its treaty dealing with the exploitation of whales, they "travel" to a foreign market and come across kujira or whale meat. Students then use an online web tool, Witness for Whales, to attempt to identify several unknown DNA sequences. Students record their findings and then do further investigating to determine the hunting status of each organism revealed. Finally, students use their findings and other resources to make recommendations to the IWC.
    For grades 9-12.

  • Anolis Lizards of the Greater Antilles (Using Phylogeny to Test Hypotheses)
    Students "take a trip" to the Greater Antilles to figure out how the Anolis lizards on the islands might have evolved. They begin by observing the body structures and habitat of different species, then plot this data on a map of the islands to look for patterns in their distribution. From the patterns they observe, students develop alternative hypotheses about how these lizards colonized the islands and evolved. To test their hypotheses, they are given a phylogeny which they color code according to their previous data. By combining both types of data, students make a final hypothesis about how they think the lizards colonized the islands.
    Can be adapted for grades 7-13.
    (Version with alternate more professional graphics from UCMP's Understanding Evolution website.

  • Cassit Birds (Lessons on Genes, Inheritance, and Evolution)
    Through a sequence of four lessons that revolve around a bird population, students learn how features are inherited from generation to generation, how genotypes code for phenotypes, how gene frequencies and phenotype frequencies fluxuate, and how natural selection and other mechanisms can result in speciation/evolution.
    Can be adapted for grades 7-11.


  • General Hospital: Understanding the Integumentary System

    Through a series of seminars, research, and hands-on activities, students learn how to put together a series of questions (tool) that they can use to diagnose patients with symptoms that involve the integumentary system. Students then use their tool in a "real world" situation by diagnosing the disease of a patient. Through the experience students learn:
  • The structures and functions integumentary system;
  • The symptoms, causes, and treatments of various diseases;
  • How to develop and use a diagnostic tool;
  • How to conduct a patient interview;
  • How to work as a collaborative team.
  • For grades 9-12.
    For the lesson description contact Jen at

    Other Great Sources for Lessons

  • Explorations Through Time
  • Learning From the Fossil Record
  • Evolution and the Nature of Science

    References and Readings

    See our Proportional Time Scale.

    Learn about Phylogeny in a Nutshell.

    Read about Molecules and Evolutionary History.

    Explore the biology of some neat critters (on pages written for UCMP):

  • ©   Updated: October 2004