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Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Paleobiology - Unearthing Fossil Whales

In this video, paleontologist Dr. Nick Pyenson explains how fossil whales reveal environments of the past.

Description: 

Dr. Nick Pyenson is a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Join him in uncovering fossil whales in Panama, Canada, and Chile. Probe into the evolutionary mysteries contained in fossil whale skeletons. Consider what whale remains can tell you about past environments. Find out how paleontologists deal with large fossils. See how modern digitization techniques can be used to study a paleontological site. Learn how Nick and his team are analyzing fossil whales in conjunction with other data to enhance our understanding of whale paleontology. This show aired January 16, 2014.

Paleontology

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National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science

MS-LS4

Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
  • MS-LS4-1Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
  • MS-LS4-2Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
  • MS-LS4-4Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals' probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
  • MS-LS4-6Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.
Earth Science

MS-ESS2

Earth's Systems
  • MS-ESS2-3Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

MS-LS4, MS-ESS2