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Mary Jo Meade limber.pine at earthlink.net
Thu May 3 14:18:07 EDT 2007

Hi Marilyn...

The first content on Alternative Lens may well be science material,
each topic presented in a deeply cross-curricular way and correlated to
national science standards and AAAS Benchmarks.

Mary Jo Meade
limber.pine at earthlink.net

I am currently developing a readings package on whale evolution – from
land back to the sea – that will include:

• Articles on the fossil record and transitional forms – Pakicetus,
Ambulocetus, Aetiocetus, etc. – with images provided by the wonderful
paleo-wildlife illustrator Carl Buell...

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Pakicetus...by Carl Buell

...and the generous folks at the UC Museum of Paleontology...

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• Adaptations to aquatic life (hearing and echolocation, vocalizations
(with whale recordings), the migration of nostrils to the top of the
head, etc.)

• The recent discovery of spindle neurons in whale brains

• Cetacean (up-and-down) vs. fish (side-to-side) locomotion

• An introduction to cladistics

• Profiles of cetacean paleontologists and articles on digs

• Pangea – changing Earth, changing life forms

Cross-curricular content:

• The history, economy and culture of whaling. (Including, I hope, an
article on Maori whaling with materials from
www.teara.govt.nz/EarthSeaAndSky/HarvestingTheSea/Whaling/4/en )

• Contemporary whale rescuers and rescue attempts (I have images from
the generous folks at
www.coastalstudies.org/what-we-do/whale-rescue/introduction.htm )


This is text from the WINGS observation reader, a short article on
archaeopteryx aimed at upper elementary and middle school ELLs. It's an
example of one of the potential reading levels for the website...

Main headline: Is it a bird or a dinosaur?

Subhead: Scientists observe the past to learn about today’s birds

Scientists called paleontologists study the history of life on Earth.
They want to know which plants and animals lived here first and how
they have changed over time, or evolved.
Paleontologists look for clues about the past. They study the remains
of ancient living things, or fossils.

Fossils can be bones, teeth, eggs, leaves, shells, seeds, feathers,
footprints and other things. Many fossils are buried in rock.
In 1861, a paleontologist found a fossil in Germany. The animal lived
about 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. It was named
Archaeopteryx, which means “ancient wing” in the Greek language.

Archaeopteryx was as big as a crow and had wings and feathers like a
bird. It could fly. But it also had sharp teeth and a long, bony tail
like a dinosaur.

The fossil shows that birds are related to reptiles. This is a very
important clue. Most scientists believe Archaeopteryx is an ancient
bird that evolved from dinosaurs.

Paleontologists are finding more bird fossils. Each one adds new clues
about bird evolution. Scientists have not answered the biggest bird
questions – why do birds have feathers, and how did they learn to fly?
Paleontologists believe the answers are somewhere on Earth, buried in

(Spanish cognates: observe, scientists, plants, animals, fossil, rock,
million, dinosaur, reptile, evolution)


Watch the bird evolution cartoon at www.aviary.org/curric/becoming.htm#

Make fossils at
www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life/dinosaurs/burying_bodies and

See bird skeletons at
http://digimorph.org/listthumbs.phtml?grp=bird&name=CommonName. Click
on a bird. In the upper right corner of the page, click on the 3D
Volume Rendered Movies.

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