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|Gail Alaimo Soquel High School
|9th – 12th||Two-week unit of study||Add one picture that best summarizes the lesson|
What can the skeleton of a dolphin and a human teach us about the whale fossils of the Purisima Formation?
- To obtain, evaluate, and communicate information
- Learn about evolution through the exploration of adaptations, natural selection and DNA sequence ideas.
- To learn how to observe and interpret patterns towards a better understanding between correlation and cause.
Students will work in several collaborative groups during our laboratory stations covering topics in mammalian vertebrae.
There will also be pair teams visiting the fossil site in order to document and photograph the whale fossils of the Purisima.
Students will be scanning the vertebral column of a specimen of Stenella longirostris borrowed from University of California at Santa Cruz and each vertebra will eventually be 3D printed.
Student teams will each have a 3D printed set of human vertebra that they will use to identify vertebral landmarks and regions of the mammalian vertebral column (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, caudal).
Students will examine vertebrae bones from different regions of an Orcinus orca and compare and contrast to the Stenella longirostris vertebrae.
Students will be taking measurements of fossil whale vertebrae from the Purisima formation that will be entered into an rShiny application developed by Aaron Wood to estimate TBL of the fossil whales.
Future plan: Create a library of the complete forearm bones of several mammal species in addition to Stenella longirostris and humans in the further study of mammalian homology.
Artifacts created by students will include 3D printed Stenella longirostris vertebrae using the specimen borrowed from University of California at Santa Cruz.
Formative assessments will include topics in:
Landmarks and regions of mammalian vertebrae
Evolution of mammalian orders and families
Evolutionary timeline of whales – especially those species represented in Monterey Bay
Classification and characteristics of major groups of extant cetaceans
Summative Assessments will include essays covering:
Natural selection and environmental pressures that influenced cetacean evolution
The use of bones as evidence of homology and common ancestry
ANCHORING EVENT & PROCEDURE
- Students will watch the Smithsonian Clip of Nick Pyenson discussing the whales of Cerro Ballena (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRLZ29mLdSQ)
- Connect with Robert Boesseneker through Skype, if possible, as a paleontology expert on the Purisima Formation
- Our study will begin with a thorough examination of human vertebrae, learning landmarks and distinctions between different regions of the vertebral column.
- Next, students will examine the Stennella longorostris vertebrae and skeleton in order to compare and contrast to a human.
- Student pairs will be in the process of scanning and printing the entire vertebral column from our Stennella specimen throughout our unit.
- Students will have access to 3D-printed vertebrae of Orcinus orca from different regions of the vertebral column to compare and contrast to Stennella longorostris.
- Students will explore the evolution of mammals, and specifically the evolution of cetaceans, using current articles and research.
- Students will visit the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) skeleton at Long Marine Lab in order to become more familiar with the cetacean skeleton of genus Balaenoptera.
- Students will locate and document whale fossils from the Purisima Formation using digital calipers and photographs. Fossils will be identified using student knowledge of the Stennella
- Whale vertebrae fossils will be identified by vertebral region and centrum measurements will be made. These measurement will be entered into an rShiny application created by Aaron Wood in order to obtain total body length (TBL) estimates for each fossil located and documented by the students.
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS)
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
HS-LS4-1: Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
HS-LS4-4: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Science & Engineering Practices
Connection to Lesson
|Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to evaluating the validity and reliability of the claims, methods, and designs.
• Communicate scientific information (e.g., about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically). (HS-LS4-1)• Construct an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future. (HS-LS4-4)
|Identify where in your lesson science practices appear.|
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Connection to Lesson
|LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
• Genetic information provides evidence of evolution. DNA sequences vary among species, but there are many overlaps; in fact, the ongoing branching that produces multiple lines of descent can be inferred by comparing the DNA sequences of different organisms. Such information is also derivable from the similarities and differences in amino acid sequences and from anatomical and embryological evidence. (HS-LS4-1)LS4.C: Adaptation
• Natural selection leads to adaptation, that is, to a population dominated by organisms that are anatomically, behaviorally, and physiologically well suited to survive and reproduce in a specific environment. That is, the differential survival and reproduction of organisms in a population that have an advantageous heritable trait leads to an increase in the proportion of individuals in future generations that have the trait and to a decrease in the proportion of individuals that do not. (HS-LS4-4)
|Identify where in your lesson disciplinary core ideas appear.|
Connection to Lesson
• Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena. (HS-LS4-1)Cause and Effect
• Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects. (HS-LS4-4)
|Identify where in your lesson crosscutting concepts appear.|
COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS (CCSS)
Solve problems involving measurement and estimation.
Represent and interpret data.
Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
(optional – examples are ISTE standards, 21st century skills and 4C’s etc.)
RESOURCES & MATERIALS
- Boessenecker, Robert. “A New Marine Vertebrate Assemblage from the Late Neogene Purisima Formation in Central California, part KK: Pinnipeds and Cetaceans” Geodiversitas (December 2013)
- Boessenecker, Robert.”Balaenoptera berate: New Fossil Whale Species Discovered”. Science News. (February 2014).
- Buchholtz, Emily. “Vertebral and rib anatomy in Caperea marginata: Implications for evolutionary patterning of the mammalian vertebral column”. Marine Mammal Science. (2010).
- Nishiwaki, Masaharu, et al. “Feresa attenuate Captured at the Pacific Coast of Japan in 1963”. Scientific Reports Whales Research Institute (No. 19).
- Omura, Hideo.“Osteological Study of the Little Piked Whale from the Coast of Japan”. Scientific Reports Whales Research Institute (No. 12; 1957).
- Smithosonian:Q?rius. “ Teaching Resources – Fossil Whales and Whale Evolution”. https://qrius.si.edu/teachers/online/science-teaching-resources/fossil-whales-and-whale-evolution. Including specific resources listed below:
- Webcast about fossil whales with Smithsonian paleobiologist Nick Pyenson on Smithsonian Science How
- Cetaceans in Silico: 3D Digitizing a Fossil Whale Graveyard in the Atacama of Chile. Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio)
- How Land Animals Became Marine Animals:”They Followed Their Stomachs. The Splendid Table
- Smithsonian Scientists Solve Sudden Death Sea Mystery. Smithsonian Newsdesk
- Scientist Solve the Mystery of a Nine-Million-Year-Old Mass Whale Die-Off. Smithsonian Magazine
- Marine Mammals in FossiLab Digging the Fossil Record: Paleobiology at the Smithsonian
- Rare Collection of Whale Fetuses Reveals the Evolution of Cetacean Hearing. Smithsonian Magazine
KEY ACADEMIC AND/OR SCIENTIFIC LANGUAGE
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Students should have a basic knowledge of:
- the mechanism of natural selection
- the evolutionary timeline of mammalian evolution with a focus on cetaceans
- the process of fossil formation
- the geologic time scale