This resource is from “Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science” by Patrick J. Enderle, Ruth Bickel, Leeanne Gleim, Ellen Granger, Jonathon Grooms, Melanie Hester, Ashley Murphey, Victor Sampson, and Sherry A. Southerland.
Students examine skeletal replicas or pictures of a Seymouria fossil as well as skeletons of a frog, lizard, pigeon, bat, and rat to determine the evolutionary relationships of these organisms. They decide which characteristics of the specimens they will compare and how to quantify the differences and similarities in the skeletons. From the data that they collect students look for patterns about how the life forms have changed over time and construct an argument for how biologists should classify the Seymouria. This argument is written in the form of claim, evidence and justification of the evidence and an argumentation session is held between groups in the class.
A reading about phylogenetic trees and how they represent evolutionary relationships between species introduces the lab so that students should be able to construct a cladogram for the specimens in the lab.
“Checkout Questions” are provided to facilitate student reflection on what was learned. Students are assigned a short investigation report to finish processing their experience. Significant background information is provided for teachers and to a lesser degree in the student hand-out in the introduction. The standards addressed in the lesson are also included in the teacher’s notes.