Monday, July 11, 2011

Living Fossils Curriculum Review!

Living Fossils Evolution:  The Grand Experiment
Living Fossils Evolution:  The Grand Experiment

Living Fossils begins with an account of the challenge given to the author, Dr. Carl Werner, during his sophomore year of college to answer the question, "How could life begin if proteins do not form naturally?"  This book is a 30 year compilation of that quest and to prove evolution, right or wrong.

"Many perceive the fossil record as the greatest proof for the theory of evolution that life in the far distant past was comprised of strange and unusual animals and plants that evolved over time into the familiar life-forms that surround us today.

Many who oppose evolution argue that plants and animals have not fundamentally changed over time.  Although some animals, like dinosaurs and flying reptiles, have gone extinct, the others have remained substantially the same since their origin.  These viewpoints radically contradict one another.

In order to solve this controversy, I have reviewed thousands of fossils from  the dinosaur era - fossils from Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous rock layers - and compared them to the animals and plants of today.  According to one reviewer, you will not find a more complete picture of life during the dinosaur era anywhere."

Upon first receiving this book, I am awe struck with page upon page of spectacular photographs.  The majority of which contain shots of living creatures next to their counterpart fossil that are supposedly millions of years old.  It is rather difficult to believe in evolution/millions of years when faced with these "living fossils".

Each chapter of this book is packed with a wide array of information that is "just-right" for the 7th grade and up crowd.  Within these 25 chapters, you'll find a fascinating, revealing and informative study of living fossils from aquatic life, reptiles, snakes, birds, mammals and plants. 

Currently, my children are in 8th, 5th and 3rd grades.  I decided to do the first couple of lessons with all three.  Obviously, I don't have the same expectations for my 3rd grader as I do for my oldest child - but there are some concepts she is able to grasp on a more simplistic level.

Using the Teacher's Manual, we followed the first 6 steps:

1.  Teacher reads 'Purpose of Chapter' in this Teacher's Manual.

2.  Teacher leads students in 'Class Discussion Questions'. 
     All of my children could do this with varying degrees of understanding.

3.  Students watch DVD (optional). 
     We do not currently have this DVD, but I would not hesitate to purchase it based on the quality of  
     information presented.

4.  Students read chapter.
     I went ahead and read it out loud and stopped when necessary to answer questions.

5.  Students are given 'Objectives of Chapter Worksheet' after reading the chapter and are
     directed to complete the answers.
     My 8th grader did these on his own.  I did some of these orally with my younger two.

6.  Teacher administers 'Chapter Test A'.
     I gave this only to my 8th grader.

So far in our studies, my older two were struck with the subjectivness of the "Name Game".  On dig sites there's not a committee of scientists to determine whether a fossil is a new species or a variation.  Whoever finds it, names it and most likely that scientist supports evolution in which the new species name may reflect this.  Often times a scientists will gain more recognition by doing so.

A great photo example of this concept is from page 24.  There are 6 pictures of variations in American Oysters.  They are all the same species. If they were found fossilized miles apart from each other, they might be incorrectly assigned a new species name.   Other examples include:  Sassafras and Magnolia leaves.

My youngest could easily figure this out by looking at all the variations of dog skulls that were also pictured.

I won't spoil the conclusions of the author, but I will tell you that he does address: 7 Problems of Evolution, Influence of Fossil Orientation, Use of Fossils Found Below Dinosaur Layers, Difficulty in Vertebrate Identification and Assumptions in Fossil Reconstructions.

My children mostly enjoyed this study.  My oldest prefers Physics to Life Sciences.  But, he did enjoy reading the evidence against evolution.  My younger two, who are avid animal lovers, enjoyed the pictures and building knowledge against evolution with Living Fossils.

I would recommend this book in a CO-OP or individual setting and would be a wonderful summer science study as well!

This is the second book in this series.  The first, Evolution:  The Grand Experiment Volume 1 can be viewed here.

I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.

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