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Island Biogeography and Evolution: Solving a Phylogenetic Puzzle Using Molecular Genetics
This activity concerns the evolution of three species of lizards on the Canary Islands. Its purpose is to demonstrate to students that evolutionary problems are complex and solutions may involve data from various disciplines of science. First, students must arrive at different phylogenetic solutions using only geographical and geological data. Then they compare the morphology of the species involved, arriving at a more traditional solution to phylogeny. Finally students deduce a phylogeny based on genetic distance using DNA sequences from cutting edge biotechnology. The strength of the activity is its depth and interdisciplinary approach. This activity reinforces the interdisciplinary nature of modern science. Students utilize real data from real scientists. They apply the principles of evolution in their reasoning to make use of this data from geology and biological science.
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lesson plan
  • Biology
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Paleontology
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 1996-2000 by The Museum of Paleontology of The University of California, Berkeley; the Regents of the University of California; and The Paleontological Society. No part of the referring document residing on the server may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without prior written permission of the publisher, except for educational purposes, and in no case for profit.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-004-768
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 9-12:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evolution and equilibrium
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Behavior of organisms
        • Biological evolution
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: University of California Museum of Paleontology

Author: Richard P. Filson
Edison High School