WEBCAST: Paleobiology - Unearthing Fossil Whales

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring Dr. Nick Pyenson. In the show, Nick explains how fossil whales reveal environments of the past.

Smithsonian Science How: Paleobiology - Unearthing Fossil Whales

Featuring Paleontologist Nick Pyenson

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.

Watch a recording of the January 16, 2014, webcast above. The show aligns with national science standards

Nick's Answers to Student Questions

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video 

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS)

The Fossil Whale Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-1. Analyze 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-LS4-2. Apply 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-LS4-4. Construct 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-LS4-6. Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

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