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Lesson Plan 3_Woolly Mammoth

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					Mammoth Extinction
Sequence #: 3

Grade: 10th Grade Biology

Learning Styles: Naturalist, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, Technological.

Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to explore various hypotheses concerning the extinction
of the wooly mammoth. Students will explore a Web resource that presents various hypotheses
about why the wooly mammoth became extinct. The Website used in this lesson is a record of
the expedition, and it also poses questions and possible answers about why the wooly mammoth
died out. The notion that scientific knowledge is always subject to modification can be difficult
for students to grasp. Although most students may believe that scientific knowledge changes,
they typically think that changes occur mainly in fact or through the invention of improved
technology.

Background: In this lesson, students will explore a Web resource that presents various
hypotheses about why the woolly mammoth became extinct, with a special focus on an
infectious disease as the cause. Woolly mammoths died out in a puzzling extinction event during
the late Quaternary period. This extinction event also wiped out a large number of other large
mammal species, including the sabre-toothed tiger and the Irish giant deer. In August of 1998, a
research team from the American Museum of Natural History, led by Ross MacPhee, chairman
of the Museum's Department of Mammalogy, traveled to the Arctic Circle. There, they
conducted an 18-day expedition, hunting for mammoth bones and teeth in the soggy tundra. The
website used in this lesson is a record of the expedition, and it also poses questions and possible
answers about why the woolly mammoth died out. As students explore the resource, they are
encouraged to think about how species might become extinct, as well as how researchers look for
evidence to support their hypotheses and theories.

The notion that scientific knowledge is always subject to modification can be difficult for
students to grasp. Although most students may believe that scientific knowledge changes, they
typically think that changes occur mainly in facts or through the invention of improved
technology. It is important to help students understand the development of scientific knowledge
through the interaction of theory and observation. However, it is important not to overdo the
"science always changes" theme, since the main body of scientific knowledge is very stable and
grows by being corrected slowly and having its boundaries extended gradually. Scientists
themselves accept the notion that scientific knowledge is always open to improvement and can
never be declared absolutely certain.

Concepts to be Taught:
   1. Computer based research skills.
   2. How research in the field is conducted in order to create hypotheses.
   3. How has changes in ecosystems effected organisms.
   4. How scientific knowledge is adjusted due to new evidence.
Michigan Merit Curriculum – Biology
      B3.4 Changes in Ecosystem. Although the interrelationships and interdependence of
      organisms may generate biological communities in ecosystems that are stable for
      hundreds or thousands of years, ecosystems always change when climate changes or
      when one or more new species appear as a result of migration or local evolution. Te
      impact of the human species has major consequences for other species.

Objectives:
  1. Students will be able to explain what contributed to mammoth extinction.
  2. Students will be able to transfer knowledge of man caused extinctions to modern day
      examples.
  3. Students will be able to predict what changes might occur if our current climate changed.

Key Concepts:
      Tundra                               Equilibrium of Ecosystems
      Extinction                           Climate Change
      Quaternary                           Hypothesis
      Scientific Knowledge

Materials:
  1. Computer with internet access.
  2. Mammoth Extinction Student E-Sheet.
  3. Mammoth Extinction Student Sheet.
  4. Mammoth Extinction Teacher Sheet.
Mammoth Extinction – Student E-Sheet
NAME:__________________________________________________________DATE:_______

Going Online:
What Killed the mammoths? Read the introduction to “what killed the mammoths?”, on the
American Museum of Natural History site, to learn more about this question.
(http://www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins/biobulletin/biobulletin/story981.html)

In this lesson, you will learn about why the wooly mammoth became extinct. Wooly mammoths died out
in a puzzling extinction event during the late Quaternary period. This extinction event also wiped out a
large number of other large mammal species, including the sabre-toothed tiger and the Irish giant deer. In
august of 1998, a research team from the American Museum of Natural History, led by Ross MacPhee,
chairman of the Museum’s Department of Mammalogy, traveled to the Arctic Circle, There they
conducted an 18-day expedition, hunting for mammoth bones and teeth in the soggy tundra. The website
used in this lesson is a record of the expedition, and it also poses questions and possible answers about
why the wooly mammoth died out.

As you explore the following resources, think about why species might become extinct, as well as how
researchers look for evidence to support their hypotheses and theories. Use the Mammoth Extinction
Student sheet to answer questions about the resources as you read.

“More on Mammoths” (http://www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins/biobulletin/biobulletin/story984.html)

“Tusks on the Tundra” (http://www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins/biobulletin/biobulletin/story982.html)

“Hyperdisease hypothesis” (http://www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins/biobulletin/biobulletin/story983.html)

Check with your teacher before continuing!

Understanding What You Learned
Read the webpage, “What Dies Out and Why?”
(http://www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins/biobulletin/biobulletin/story985.html)

In a brief essay, discuss some of the reasons for extinctions posed in the article.
Apply the ideas and theories in the article to the extinction of the mammoths.

Going Further
Visit “The Mammoth Site” for pictures, educational activities, research data, and so on.
(http://www.mammothsite.com/)
Mammoth Extinction – Student Sheet
NAME:__________________________________________________________DATE:_______

Use this sheet to answer questions as you explore resources from the Mammoth Extinction E-
Sheet (http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/Esheet.cfm?DocID=65).

More on Mammoths (http://sciencebulletins.amnh.org/biobulletin/biobulletin/story984.html)
• Why do we seem to know more about mammoths than other extinct, prehistoric animals?



• Size among the mammoths seemed to have varied considerably. To what might this be
attributed?



• What do the shape and size of the mammoth’s tusks indicate that they might have been used
for?



• What is the relationship of the mammoth to the modern elephant?



• According to some scientists, should the mammals have become extinct?



Tusks on the Tundra (http://sciencebulletins.amnh.org/biobulletin/biobulletin/story982.html)
• Besides MacPhee’s theory of a lethal virus, what are the main theories described as to what
caused the massive mammalian extinctions featured in this article?



• Why did MacPhee choose Wrangel Island as the best place to look for evidence of his theory?



Hyper Disease Hypothesis (http://sciencebulletins.amnh.org/biobulletin/biobulletin/story983.html)
• What is a megafauna?


• What were the two unique features of the late Quaternary extinctions noted by MacPhee?
Mammoth Extinction – Teacher Sheet
Use this sheet to answer questions as you explore resources from the Mammoth Extinction E-
Sheet (http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/Esheet.cfm?DocID=65).

More on Mammoths (http://sciencebulletins.amnh.org/biobulletin/biobulletin/story984.html)
• Why do we seem to know more about mammoths than other extinct, prehistoric animals?
We seem to know more because they were relatively abundant and because a significant number
of well-preserved carcasses have been found. Not only that, but they were also the subject of
numerous cave drawing.

• Size among the mammoths seemed to have varied considerably. To what might this be
attributed?
Food supply

• What do the shape and size of the mammoth’s tusks indicate that they might have been used
for?
They indicate that the tusks might have been used to uncover vegetation buried in the snow

• What is the relationship of the mammoth to the modern elephant?
Contrary to what some might believe, the elephant did not descend from the mammoth. Rather,
the two groups evolved from separate branches of the family tree. Though mammoths died out
while elephants persist, both groups co-existed on earth for four million years

• According to some scientists, should the mammals have become extinct?
No, the mammoths had many favorable traits for survival, such as a broad, geographic range
and no natural predators besides humans

Tusks on the Tundra (http://sciencebulletins.amnh.org/biobulletin/biobulletin/story982.html)
• Besides MacPhee’s theory of a lethal virus, what are the main theories described as to what
caused the massive mammalian extinctions featured in this article?
They are climate change, over hunting by humans, or a combination of both

• Why did MacPhee choose Wrangel Island as the best place to look for evidence of his theory?
Mammothson Wrangel Island persisted about 6,000 years longer than anywhere else and it
seemed more likely that the fossil remains might yield traces of a virus

Hyper Disease Hypothesis (http://sciencebulletins.amnh.org/biobulletin/biobulletin/story983.html)
• What is a megafauna?
A mammal weighing more than 100 lbs.

• What were the two unique features of the late Quaternary extinctions noted by MacPhee?
1. They were unevenly distributed geographically, e.g., losses were heavier in the Americas and
Australia than in African or Eurasia. 2. Extinctions followed the emergence of humans or their
arrival in specific areas.
Strategies and Activities:
Start of Class – Normal Classroom activities (attendance, etc.)

Engage: Play youtube video about the discovery of the Woolly Mammoth, Uba. Frozen
Mammoth Found, National Geographic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrpouDrM_x4

What killed the Woolly Mammoth?

Explore: Pass out sheets to students and get them all logged onto the computer. Adaptation: This
could be loaded onto moodle or emailed to students so they have all the working hyperlinks.

Questions to Ask as Students are Exploring:
   1. Anything interesting?
   2. What killed the Woolly Mammoth?
   3. What would you do if you found a tusk?

Explain: Students are explaining the concepts on the “Mammoth Extinction Sheet”.

Elaborate: Students are asked to take it one step further and create their own, authentic answers
      in the essay from the article “What Dies Out and Why”.

Evaluate:
   1. Students will be graded on “Mammoth Extinction Sheet” (10 Points)
   2. Students will be graded on “What Dies Out and Why” Essay. (10 Points)
             Students should be able to describe various hypotheses regarding the extinction of
             the woolly mammoth, especially the hyperdisease hypothesis. They should also be
             able to relate the example provided in this lesson to general ideas about how
             scientific knowledge is tested and developed and how researchers look for
             evidence to support their hypotheses and theories.

Differentiation and Inclusion: Students with IEPs can be paired with other students so their team
       mate can read the articles to them and then develop answers together after discussion.
       Students that are absent can do the whole assignment from home, because it is internet based.




Adaptation by:
Matthew Kimball

Ideas and Materials taken from:
AAAS Science NetLinks
http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/lessons.php?BenchmarkID=5&DocID=328

				
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