Scientist Training Mission: Investigating Evolution

Charles Darwin used the creatures of the Galapagos Islands to help form his ideas of evolution, the gradual change of species over time. The animals of the Galapagos Islands gave clues to evolution because they were similar across all the islands yet had adapted in slightly different ways over a long, long time. For example, the beaks of finches on one island were slightly different from the beaks of finches on a nearby island, due to the different environmental conditions and competitions on each island. However, living things are not our only clues to evolution, and studying creatures that lived on Earth a very long time ago can also help us learn more about the history of life on our planet.

Your Mission: You and your partner will choose an extinct animal from the list to study. You will explore questions that will help us understand that animal, the time and place it lived in, and why it matters to us today.

Your Product: One cover page with a picture, your names, the date, my name, and a title worth 200 points. Two pages MINIMUM(double spaced) answering the research questions worth 300 points, and a visual (for example, a poster or a 3D model) based on your research worth 500 points. Total = 1,000 points.

Your Choices:  Here is a list of animals you may choose from.  CHOOSE ONE.

-Woolly Mammoth

-Dodo bird


-Spectacled Cormorant

-Javan Tiger

-Elasmotherium (Giant Unicorn)

-Archaeopteryx (the discovery of these fossils helped scientists realize that birds may be descended from dinosaurs)



***In danger of extinction:

-Polar bear

-Blue Whale


Your Questions: Use these questions to guide your research. Type the answers on a computer, and all of your answers in total should be around 2 pages (exact word count does not matter, and it does not have to be in essay format. For example, you can just copy each question and type your answer after it. ) TAKE NOTES BELOW TO HELP YOU DURING YOUR RESEARCH.

#1)  What was your animal like when it was alive? What were its habits? For example, did it live alone or in groups? What did it like to eat? How did it live: in a cave, in a nest, etc? How do scientists know?



#2) What was your animal’s habitat, or environment, like? Describe where it lived; was it the forest, the ocean, the desert, all over, etc? What other kinds of animals did it possibly need to compete with?




#3) What caused its extinction? What do scientists think caused this animal to die off (there may be more than one reason/explanation).




#4) In what ways could this animal have adapted to avoid extinction?What adaptations do YOU think could have helped this animal survive? Sometimes, extinction is unavoidable, so there may have been no way for this animal to survive. Either way, come up with a thoughtful explanation with thoughtful reasons to support your explanation.




If you keep each response for each question at about half a page, you will have no problem filling 2 pages, double spaced.