Written by Kelly A Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
– To describe how phylogenetic trees show evolutionary relationships
– To describe shared characteristics in vertebrate evolution
– To construct a simple phylogenetic tree for mammalian evolution
Activity Description: This activity can be used while teaching vertebrate evolution. It will also bring in phylogeny, as a way for students to see relationships rather than lists of characteristics to memorize about vertebrate. Students will explain phylogenetic trees, practice with the vertebrate phylogenetic tree they have seen in their textbook, and then construct their own tree to demonstrate their understanding of phylogeny. After the worksheet, an assessment question (see below) can be used b the instructor in various ways.
Time Needed: 15-20 minutes
Materials Needed: The activity worksheet can be printed for class time. A key is also attached. An optional “Guided Reading Questions” worksheet accompanies the activity for students to do on their own while reading to prepare for this day’s activity.
Activity Instructions: Students should read about vertebrate evolution before this activity. Students work through the worksheet and are then given the assessment below.
Assessment: The following assessment is adapted from an “Applying the Concepts” Question in Chapter 15 of Campbell Biology Concepts and Connections 7th Edition. It can easily be modified into a set of clicker or multiple choice exam questions.
Directions: Arrange the species on the phylogenetic tree below and indicate the derived character that defines each branch point.
Numerous questions can be made for clicker or test exams for students to make correct labels. Example:
What should be at label “Z”?
B) Green Skin
D) Suction Cup Feet
E) Giant Eyes
Key: for all labels:
W – Green Skin
X – Giant Eyes
Y – Fur
Z – Suction Cup Feet