Field trip to the Field Museum and Shedd â€؛ faculty â€؛ pnovack-gottshall â€؛ Teaching...
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Transcript of Field trip to the Field Museum and Shedd â€؛ faculty â€؛ pnovack-gottshall â€؛ Teaching...
Field trip to the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium
Field Museum At the Field Museum, we will focus on one major exhibit, the Evolving Planet exhibit, located on
the second floor of the Field Museum. This field trip guide is self‐paced, and you can move at whatever pace and in whatever order you find most convenient. You will find useful resources, including a timescale, map, and summary of major events in Earth history, later in this field trip guidebook. Goals for this portion of the field trip include the following:
• Gain a better understanding of the geological timescale and major events in the history of life, including the origin of life, mass extinctions, and major evolutionary transitions.
• Gain first‐hand experience with the major biological organisms that constitute the fossil record, especially as informed by the major evolutionary faunas and floras.
• Observe fossils and appreciate the ways that paleontologists use them to reconstruct ancient organisms and communities.
Pay attention throughout the exhibits: Murals and reconstructions
As you enjoy the exhibits, pay special attention to the original and historically important paintings by Charles R. Knight, done in the early 1900s. Knight was one of the first and most important painters of paleontological subjects, and gained widespread fame for his works published in National Geographic and other venues. There are murals and reconstructions by other artists and museum exhibit staff members, as well. Many of these include reconstructions of individual animals, such as dinosaurs, invertebrates, and other plants and animals. Although these are artistic installations, they are often done with significant advice from scientists to ensure that they are as realistic and scientifically accurate as possible. 1. Given your knowledge of the history of life, note which murals, exhibits, and reconstructions are the
most scientifically accurate. 2. Which ones (if any) strike you as particularly full of errors? In other words, critique the scientific
accuracy of some murals and reconstructions.
Pay attention throughout the exhibits: Fossil specimens
While you view the exhibits, also be on the lookout for real fossils. The Field Museum is exceptional, if not singularly unique, because it places type specimens on display. (Type specimens are the fossils considered the best preserved and displaying the most diagnostic features of newly described species. In other words, type specimens are those priceless and scientifically most important specimens photographed in the original scientific publications!) In most museums, such specimens are locked away in padlocked drawers, far from public exposure, and only viewable by specialist paleontologists. 3. Identify as many type specimens as you can throughout the exhibits. Type specimens are often
designated with specialized terms such as holotype, paratype, lectotype, and neotypes. 4. See if you can identify examples of each of the following modes of preservation.
Mode of preservation Exemplar species Type of plants/animals
Casts and molds
Recrystallization (Pyritization, silicification, etc.)
Pay attention throughout the exhibits: Fossil specimens You know that life has experienced five major mass extinctions, and some scientists think we are experiencing a sixth currently because of anthropogenic influences. As you travel through the exhibits, pay attention to the mass extinctions and fill out the following table.
Era Period Age (m.y.a.) % of life lost Main cause
5. What is the argument for a sixth, current extinction? Precambrian 6. How old is Earth? 7. How much of Earth’s history is represented by the Precambrian? 8. Describe a few of the fossils typical of the Precambrian.
Cambrian evolutionary fauna 9. What are some of the major fossiliferous groups represented in the Cambrian evolutionary fauna?
10. How did Cambrian communities exist ecologically? (in other words, describe the typical ecological strategies found in Cambrian communities.) In what way is the ecology quite different than found in the Ediacaran communities of the Precambrian?
11. What geological formation does the main diorama reconstruct? Where were the fossils for this formation discovered?
12. Was there any life on land during the Cambrian?
13. Describe what Earth was like during the Cambrian. (For example, where were continents located? What was sea level like? What was the climate like?) Where was Illinois located at this time?
Paleozoic evolutionary fauna 14. What are some of the major fossiliferous groups represented in the Paleozoic marine evolutionary
fauna? How did they live (in other words, describe the typical ecological strategies found in Paleozoic communities.)
15. What were some important innovations in the history of vertebrates during the Paleozoic? Which of these innovations were important to terrestrialization?
16. What was life on land like during the Paleozoic? What were some important innovations during this
time? 17. Describe what Earth was like during the Paleozoic? Where was Illinois located at this time?
Silurian fossil reef diorama 18. Deposits of ancient coral reefs occur in Silurian rocks under the city of Chicago (which we will visit
during our second field trip). By looking at these fossilized coral reefs, what can we say about the environmental conditions during the formation of these ancient reefs?
19. What organisms composed the primary constructors (the building blocks) of the reef structure?
20. What organisms lived attached to this reef structure?
21. What organisms swam near or crawled along the reef?
Carboniferous coal forest 22. The great coal forests of the Carboniferous Period were composed of plants that are very different
from trees alive in modern forests. Describe these ancient plants and how they are different from modern plants.
23. What animals lived in these coal forests? What is unique about these animals? (Scientists are unclear why these animals are so unique, and there are two hypotheses. The first was that there were no larger animal predators, which allowed insects to evolve to enormous body sizes to take advantage of the wealth of food. The second is that the incredible amount of oxygen—the highest ever known in Earth history—allowed greater respiratory efficiency, which allowed larger body size. Why might the Carboniferous have had such high oxygen levels?)
24. Toward the end of the Carboniferous Period, the continents continued to drift together, eventually colliding, to form the supercontinent Pangaea. Describe what happened as Africa collided with eastern North America. What prominent features were formed in North America at this time?
Permian 25. What is Pangaea? What lines of evidence support the existence of Pangaea? 26. Toward the end of the Paleozoic, Earth's climate began to change dramatically. Describe this
climate, and describe how fossil plants can be used to study climate.. (You will view more discussion of the connection between climate and plants in the Cenozoic exhibits, too.)
27. Draw and label the parts of the amniotic egg. Why was the evolution of this type of egg so important to the evolutionary success of early tetrapods? Can you think of a connection between the evolution of the amniotic egg, Permian climate, and the evolution of plants and animals?
Mesozoic portion of