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Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Bird Extinctions - Time Travel through Lava Tubes

In this video, ornithologist Dr. Helen James explains what prehistoric evidence can tell you about bird extinctions.


Meet Dr. Helen James, an ornithologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Have you ever considered how a species as abundant as the passenger pigeon  (Ectopistes migratorius) could have gone extinct? Analyze their disappearance and consider what factors make birds vulnerable to extinction. Follow Helen into Hawaiian lava tubes to look for prehistoric evidence of bird life on the islands. See which bird species survived and which did not after humans arrived on the scene. Use modern tools and technologies to interpret bird extinctions. This show aired December 11, 2014.



National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science


Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
  • MS-LS2-1Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-2Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
  • MS-LS2-4Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Earth Science


Earth and Human Activity
  • MS-ESS3-4Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

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