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Teaching Resources

Reading Climate Change from Fossil Leaves

STEM Subject

Reading Climate Change from Fossil Leaves 

National Middle School Science Standards

Earth Science, Life Science

Key Terms

paleobotany, climate change, fossil leaves, fossil record, PETM, Cretaceous period 

Key Concepts:  

  • Global climate change over time 
  • Interpreting ecosystem changes through fossils
  • Plants as climate indicators 
  • Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum  
  • Technology used by paleobotanists

Resource Types:

Associated Experts

Fossil leaf from warming period 55 million years ago. Smithsonian image.Fossil leaf from warming period 55 million years ago. Smithsonian image.


Fossil Evidence and Evolution HMMI Biointeractive



The Climate Change from Fossil Leaves teaching resources support students in meeting the NGSS Performance Expectations:

Earth Science


Earth and Human Activity
  • MS-ESS3-5Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
Life Science


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.

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards


Paleobiologist Dr. Scott Wing holding a plant fossil with other large fossils behind him. Pictures on the wall behind.
Scott Wing
Paleobiologist and Curator of Fossil Plants
Paleobologist Dr. Bill DiMichele in white shirt and light helmet in a coal mine looking at a extinct seed-fern on the ceiling
Bill DiMichele
Paleobiologist and Curator of Fossil Plants
Medium shot of paleobiologist Dr. Brian Huber in a t-shirt out in the field working with his hands in a round metal bowl.
Brian Huber
Paleobiologist and Curator of Planktic Foraminifera

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