Prepare a virtual poster session detailing the biology and evolution of the group of fossils An alternate to this activity is to prepare a poster of a particular period or epoch of geologic time

Lab: History of Life Lab

In this lab, you are required to create a project. A few suggestions are listed below, but make sure that you are within the realm of the project. Be sure to include all aspects as explained in the lab.

  • Poster
  • Slideshow presentation
  • Webpage
  • Recorded speech

Introduction:

The Scientific Method:

As you go through the lab, the scientific method will be your guide to the process. Click here for more information about the scientific method.

We divide fossils into body fossils and trace fossils (also known as ichnofossils). A body fossil is a part of, or in some cases the entire, body of a creature. In rare cases, the organic material of the creature remains in the fossil, although more often we get casts and molds that reveal the external and internal structure of the organism. Trace fossils do not reveal much information about the anatomy of the creatures that made them, but instead offer glimpses of the activity and physiology of the creature.

There are several types of body fossils, and the mode of preservation of the organism’s original material is what differentiates them. Compressions form when the overlying sediment “compresses” the organism into a flat layer, which results in some of the original organic material of the creature being preserved, often as thin carbonaceous films. However, many times the organic material is further decayed, leaving only a “part and counterpart” detailing of the creature’s external form. Casts and molds are a type of preservation where the original material decays, leaving a mold in the surrounding rock that can be filled with other sediment forming a cast. Casts can be external or internal; the latter is known as steinkerns. Petrification occurs when organic matter is replaced with silica and literally turns to stone. Petrified wood also forms by this process.

Objectives:

  1. Learn about the different types of fossils.
  2. Select and study a group of organisms in depth.
  3. Prepare a virtual poster session to be shared with your classmates detailing the biology and evolution of the group of fossils you have chosen. An alternate to this activity is to prepare a poster of a particular period or epoch of geologic time.

Time Requirements:

This lab should take 4-5 hours to complete.

Recording Your Observations:

Click here to download the report for this lab where you’ll record your hypotheses, observations, and conclusions.

Procedures:

  1. Visit Fossils: Window to the Past and read about the types of fossils and fossil preservation.
  2. Visit a number of websites (a few starters are listed below) that deal with the topic of the history of life on earth. Gather information and images to allow you to prepare a virtual poster session. Be sure to cite your sources!

In your poster session you will need to detail the classification of the group of creatures whose fossil history you are presenting. Include the time of first occurrence, time of maximum diversity, and whether or not the group is extinct or extant.

Example sites:

Tour of Geologic Time

Fossil Museum

National Park Service: Fossils

SEARCHING WEBSITES:

Conduct a keyword search to find websites. To begin a keyword search, start by searching broad terms such as geologic time, fossil history, or fossil record. The resulting list of websites can give you a lot of information, but how do you know if it is reliable? There are a few basic guidelines that can help you when you open a website and try to determine its reliability.

Always consider a site’s:

  • Objectivity: Excessive expressions of emotion, opinions, and stereotyping are tip-offs that the information on a site may be biased.
  • Ownership and contributors: Go to the Home or About page of the website and find out who sponsors and writes for the site. Look for contributors who have reliable credentials, such as “Harvey Jones, Professor, University of Wisconsin—Madison.”
  • Writing style and mechanics: Check the grammar, spelling, and writing style on the site. Errors and awkwardness are signs of a nonprofessional website.
  • Currency: Look for publication or copyright dates associated with the site; the more current the better.
  • Links: What links does the site contain? A reliable website will offer links to other reliable websites, not to “junk” sites.

    Keyword Search: geologic time, fossil history, fossil record

LAB: HISTORY OF LIFE LAB:

Submit your completed lab to the Lab: History of Life assignment link for grading. For information on how this assignment will be graded, please visit the course information

History of Life

Procedures:

Visit a number of websites that deal with the topic of the history of life on Earth. Gather (and cite) information and images as you read to prepare a virtual poster session.

*Some search keywords: geologic time, fossil history, fossil record

You will need to detail the classification of the group of creatures whose fossil history you are investigating. Required elements include:

  • the time of first occurrence
  • time of maximum diversity
  • and whether or not the group is extinct or still living todayPoster Rubric
CATEGORY 7 6 5 4
Graphics – Relevance All graphics are related to the topic and make it easier to understand. All graphics are related to the topic and most make it easier to understand. All graphics relate to the topic. Graphics do not relate to the topic.
Required Elements The poster includes all required elements as well as additional information. All required elements are included on the poster. All but 1 of the required elements are included on the poster. Several required elements are missing.
Content – Accuracy At least 7 accurate facts are displayed on the poster. 5-6 accurate facts are displayed on the poster. 3-4 accurate facts are displayed on the poster. Less than 3 accurate facts are displayed on the poster.
Attractiveness The poster is exceptionally attractive in terms of design, layout, and neatness. The poster is attractive in terms of design, layout and neatness. The poster is acceptably attractive though it may be a bit messy. The poster is distractingly messy or very poorly designed. It is not attractive.
Mechanics Capitalization and punctuation are correct throughout the poster. There is 1 error in capitalization or punctuation. There are 2 errors in capitalization or punctuation. There are more than 2 errors in capitalization or punctuation.
Citations All information and all borrowed graphics have a source citation. All borrowed graphics have a source citation. Most borrowed graphics have a source citation. Several borrowed graphics do not have a source citation.
Classification Domain, kingdom, genus, species listed with appropriate italicization and capitalization. There is one error or omission in the classification information, italicization, or capitalization. There are two errors or omissions in the classification information, italicization, or capitalization. There are more than two errors or omissions in the classification information, italicization, or capitalization.
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