Paleobotany: Climate Change Past and Present featuring Scott Wing

Scott Wing

Dr. Scott Wing in the field in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming with a photo of a swamp to show what the area would have looked like 50 million years ago. In his webcast, Scott reveals evidence for changes in plant communities during a distinct global warming event about 56 million years ago. Image courtesy of Ira Block. 


Watch the recording of the June 5 webcasts, "Paleobotany - Climate Change Past and Present," featuring paleobotanist Scott Wing. 

2 p.m. Climate Change Past and Present webcast with Scott Wing - archive


Meet Dr. Scott Wing, a paleobotanist at the National Museum of Natural History. See what he found in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming that was worth eleven years of searching. Join him in interpreting the climate record from fossilized leaves and other clues. Explore how plant communities have changed in response to global climate changes. Understand today's warming of our planet in a geological context.


Use the related resources below to take your students on a journey to understand how paleobotanists study climate change. Design an assessment for your class.

Lessons Printable, inquiry-based lessons that teachers prepare and facilitate in the classroom using everyday material

Click-through Activities Online activities that students can complete independently on classroom computers or at home

Literacy Resources Reading selections to boost science literacy

Posters and Worksheets Printable images and one-page activities

Foraminifera - Earth's Microscopic Record Keepers From the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Science Expert Role Models Links to inspiring science experts at the Smithsonian and beyond

  • Scott Wing Paleobotanist at the National Museum of Natural History
  • William A. DiMichele Paleobotanist at the National Museum of Natural History
  • Dan C. Chaney Museum Specialist at the National Museum of Natural History
  • Brian Huber Paleobiologist at the National Museum of Natural History 

At the National Museum of Natural History A window into what's available at the museum

Q?rius Explore Q?rius, a new way to experience the research, collections, and science at the National Museum of Natural History


The Climate Change Webcast Package supports students in meeting the NGSS Performance Expectations listed below by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activities

  • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century

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