Essays should be 3-5 pages, single spaced, including properly formatted citations. Hypotheses will not be graded based on whether or not they are Right, but whether they are well-considered. This is an exercise in considering the evolutionary process, not presenting a grant proposal.
This project has three goals:
1) To demonstrate the importance of phenotype variability as the ingredient of evolution. What does evolution work on at a micro evolutionary level?
2) To focus on the importance of primitive and derived traits in an evolutionary context. How can we tell that evolution has occurred within a particular group of organisms?
3) To examine patterns of specialization in the evolutionary record. What does evolution look like from a macro evolutionary perspective?
This project is based around the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th Street), however you may use a different museum if you have a preference.
1) Phenotype variability
Suggested locations: Hall of Biodiversity or Hall of Ocean Life.
Find examples of a species with multiple specimens (preserved, fossilized, etc.). Record what the species are. For some displays, you may have to use the interactive displays to identify the species. For an example, look for Helix polymath in the Molluscs display.
- Choose any three of the multiple-specimen species that look interesting to you, and describe the variability that exists within each species.
- What might account for the broad range of phenotype that occur within each species? Speculate as to what selective factors may be at work here; generate specific hypotheses and predictions. How could we test these hypotheses? What are challenges to testing these hypotheses.