A Fossil Thermometer

In this activity, students calculate temperatures during a time in the geologic record when rapid warming occurred using a well known method called 'leaf-margin analysis.' Students determine the percentage of the species that have leaves with smooth edges, as opposed to toothed, or jagged, edges. Facsimiles of fossil leaves from two collection sites are examined, categorized, and the data is plugged into an equation to provide an estimate of paleotemperature for two sites in the Bighorn Basin. It also introduces students to a Smithsonian scientist who worked on the excavation sites and did the analysis.

Go To:

Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institute

Notes From Our Reviewers

The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials

Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Need to encourage students to really look at the leaves and not just play with the interactive tool.

Another activity with a stronger coverage of the science: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/IB181/VPL/Clim/Clim1.html

Share This: 
Topics: 
Hide [X]