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All In the Family

This is a Macromedia Flash based interactive tutorial on how evolutionary relationships are determined. It emphasizes the differences between looking at superficial morphological characteristics and shared ancestry. It does include some nice images which can be used to address homology and analogy. This is part of the collection of educational resources developed to support the PBS Evolution series.

Quote from source: Test your skills at judging who's who on the tree of life while you learn about the tools and methods of cladistics.

Cladistics a practical primer on CD-ROM

Skelton, P. W., A. Smith, et al. (2002). Cladistics a practical primer on CD-ROM. Cambridge, The Open University; Cambridge University Press.

This CD-ROM and book contain an interactive introduction to the logic and practical aspects of doing cladistic analyses. It works on both MAC and PC platforms. See R. P. Guralnick's review in Palaeontologia Electronica for additional information.

Quote from source: Cladistics and phylogenetic reconstruction are subjects which biology students find quite difficult to grasp when taught from conventional textbooks. This CD provides students with a complete self-study introductory course in phylogenetic reconstruction using cladistic analysis.

Classification: Arbitrary, or Not?

This lesson plan by Martin Nickels is part of the Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI) materials. It includes a full set of materials in PDF format.

Quote from source: Students working in teams classify furniture, share their categories and rationales, then note how their different schemes vary, perfectly logical and useful, but completely arbitrary. They then see how living organisms are classified, and note how these groupings are natural, nearly always reflecting the same ancestral relationships in nested hierarchies, regardless of the deeper criteria. Such patterns are revealed with a look at several phylogenetic trees of primates. Finally, teachers are encouraged to give their students lab experience collecting data from a variety of primate characteristics (skulls, chromosomes, and hemoglobin), to see for themselves the congruency of those data sets.

Classroom Cladogram of Vertebrate/Human Evolution

This lesson plan by Larry Flammer is part of the Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI) materials. It includes a full set of materials in PDF format.

Quote from source: Students prepare the components for building a Colossal Classroom Cladogram of vertebrate evolution, then put it together, showing the gradual, mosaic accumulation of the traits which we, as humans, possess. A major purpose of this is to dramatize the evidence that we (and in fact all living things) didn't suddenly pop into existence, but clearly evolved as an accumulation of traits over vast periods of time. A follow-up discussion helps focus on these concepts.

Deep Time

This is a Macromedia Flash based interactive collection of information to help students learn about deep time. An animated timeline allows the user to look at changes (geological, transformations, and extinctions) in different geological eras. This is part of the collection of educational resources developed to support the PBS Evolution series.

Quote from source: Explore 4 billion years of life on Earth, and discover major transformations, geological changes, and extinction episodes.

Evolution Collection from the Woodrow Wilson Institute

This Access Excellence site is an archive of the materials collected during the 1995 Woodrow Wilson Institute on Teaching Evolution. It contains labs and other teaching materials including the following which involve phylogeny. "From Restriction Maps to Cladograms" by Aleta Sullivan and JoAnne Dombrowski. "Constructing a Phylogenetic Tree Using DNA Sequence Data" by Mark Gabler. "Using Amino Acid Sequences to Show Evolutionary Relationships" by Gwynn Pealer and Steve Ferris. "Molecular Biology and Primate Phylogenetics" by John Banister-Marx.

Quote from source: We offer the collection to our fellow teachers to use as they like. You'll find some items here that are modifications of exercises that are familiar to many and others that have been developed anew by the participants. No one will find a use for everything we've produced, but even if you only use one or two exercises and in so doing deepen your students' appreciation for evolution and thus for all of biology, we'll be enormously pleased. -- From the Preface

Introduction to Phylogeny: How to Interpret Cladograms

This online tutorial and quiz was developed by Professor Eernisse as part of his Molecular Systematics course at California State University – Fullerton.

Quote from source: Welcome to the online Cladogram Exercise 1 Web site. This online assignment will help you get more comfortable with cladograms. They are not as confusing as you probably thought they were. After completing the following steps, you will be on your way.

Molecular Sequence & Primate Evolution: Amino Acid Difference in Beta Hemoglobin in Primates

This lesson plan by Craig Nelson and Martin Nickels is part of the Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI) materials. It includes a full set of materials in PDF format.

Quote from source: Students compare differences in amino acids in the beta hemoglobin from representative primates, complete a matrix of those differences, and from these data, construct and interpret cladograms as they reflect relationships and timing of divergence.

Names & classifying living things

This is a very interesting resource written by Jim Conrad as part of the Backyard Nature site. It has a collection of information about the practical and biological importance of naming and grouping conventions for living organisms. The text is rich with approachable examples and is written in an engaging narrative format. Some of the sections include: Lumpers and splitters; On the beauty of scientific names; and, How many kinds of plants and animals are there?

Quote from source: Names can be thought of as "handles" our minds can use to get a grasp on nature's mind boggling diversity, and classification enables us to see for ourselves the general course that evolution takes in nature. Here is an example of how having a good background in names and classification gave me a buzz the other day: ...

Understanding Evolution: An Evolution Web Site for Teachers

This is a vast and comprehensive resource for teachers. It is divided into sections on Learning Evolution and Teaching Evolution. The content is organized to reflect different learning goals, misconceptions, and the relationship between understanding the nature of science relates to learning evolution. For tree thinking discussions be sure to check out The History of Life: Looking at the Patterns, Scott Dawson's essay Lessons in the Diversity and Evolution of Eukaryotes , and the collection of History of Life lesson plans .

Quote from source: This site is a collaborative project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education. Support was provided by the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

University of California Museum of Paleontology

The UCMP has a well deserved and long standing reputation as an online source of high quality education materials relating to the history of life on Earth. Several specific resources from this extensive collection are highlighted elsewhere in this bibliography including Understanding Evolution, and Explorations Through Time.

Quote from source: The mission of the University of California Museum of Paleontology is to investigate and promote the understanding of the history of life and the diversity of the Earth's biota through research and education.

What did T. Rex taste like: An introduction to how life is related

This University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) teaching resource covers a lot of important topics in the development, interpretation and use of cladograms. It is presented in a highly structured web interface that has the feel of programmed instruction. Be sure to look at the teacher resources including assessment tools for looking at students' understanding of cladograms.

Quote from source: What Did T. rex Taste Like? is an introduction to cladistics, the most commonly used method of classification today. Cladistics organizes living things by common ancestry and evolutionary relationships, enabling us to better understand life's present diversity and evolutionary history. This module presents a simplified version of the process used to generate cladistic analyses and demonstrates its predictive power. Explorations Through Time is a series of interactive, web-based educational modules that address topics such as fossils, the history of life, biological evolution, the science of paleontology and the scientific process.


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