Ancient Animals

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Life on Earth likely began in the ancient oceans. Millions of years ago, there were marine organisms who died and, in certain circumstances, left a record of their lives as fossils. Scientists are able to study prehistoric ocean life by finding fossils… sometimes very far inland! Some of these prehistoric sea creatures went extinct when they couldn’t adapt to changes in their environment, and some were successful and have modern-day relatives. These extant species have sometimes changed a lot, and sometimes very little. Depending on the fossils, we can see evidence of the environment the animal experienced all those years ago. In this activity, students will gather evidence to support an explanation of whether an organism went extinct, or has evolved into a modern organism. They will also address and model the fossilization process and excavation techniques used by paleontologists.

Alignment with Next Generation Science Standards

*These are supplementary activities that can be used before or after Project Oceanology programs, designed to help teachers integrate their Project Oceanology experiences into the curriculum.


Meet an ancient creature up close! Students will have the opportunity to learn about the biology and adaptations of the Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus), through watching, touching, and observing its behavior. Students will also discuss how scientists study horseshoe crabs, and about conservation efforts in the Atlantic. As literature support, the class will read or hear Crab Moon by Ruth Horowitz and illustrated by Kate Kiesler and respond to the story.

Alignment with Next Generation Science Standards