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NCSE Roundup: This Week in Evolution & Climate Change (w/o 9/14/15)

NCSE Round Up: This Week in Evolution & Climate Change

This week in evolution and climate change, the people over at the National Center for Science Education talk discouraging textbooks on climate change, a startling find of human species remains and how marsupials help explain ancient evolution. 

Florida Science Textbook Riddled With Errors

Steven Newton takes a look at a Florida textbook being used in 5th grade classrooms that has what he calls "glaring and obvious" errors regarding climate change.

For one, the book gets the definition of an asteroid and a meteoroid confused. For two, and for which Newton holds the most fault, it indicates that scientists are largely unsure about why the earth's climate changes.

"Fifth grade students reading this section in Scott Foresman’s Science are left with the impression that climate scientists are uncertain about their results, that they have “debates” about the issues, and that climate may just be too hard to understand fully. Nothing could be further from the truth," Newton said.

"Great teachers know when to stand on the desk—like Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society—and tell students which pages to rip out of their textbooks. For this textbook, I recommend giving the climate page the Dead Poets treatment."

Read the full post here

Teach About This New Human Fossil Discovery in Your Classroom

"This latest discovery is so exciting that I can’t imagine any biology teacher not sparing a few minutes from the back-to-school “here’s how science works” introduction to talk about it," writes Stephanie Keep after learning above the discovery.

The discovery has to do with a pair of spelunkers with, in 2013, discovered a tunnel full of bones. Homo naledi, to be precise, and enough to comprise an estimated 15 individuals.

After alerting expert Lee Berger to the find, he led a team of scientists to pull out "1,550 bones representing parts of at least fifteen individuals."

"In case it isn’t obvious let me assure you that this is an astounding number of remains. ..There aren’t close to fifteen well-represented individuals of any early hominin species. Only later hominins, like Homo heidelbergensis and Homo neanderthalensis have a better record, and their individuals have usually been found scattered in many locations, whereas all of Homo naledi (the name given to the new species, naledi means “Rising Star” after the cave it was found in) were found together. And the kicker? Berger’s team is positive that there are way more bones to pull up—the 1,550 they recovered came from a small portion of the cave—there is much more to discover," Keep said about the find.

After Berger and his team spent six weeks identifying and setting up the fossils, they made a bizarre discovery which Keep will get to in Part 2.

Read more here

The Transition of the Mammalian Middle Ear

This week, guest blogger and PhD student Daniel Urban discusses mammals, reptiles, and the species in-between.

"[T]he best indicator to differentiate between these [mammals and reptiles] is to look at the three smallest bones in your body, found in the middle ear. This may sound a bit crazy so brace yourself—the tiny bones with which we hear, are actually used by reptiles to chew their food. Yep, that’s right."

But what interests Urban the most is if there are any mammals out there whose development traces the "full jaw-to-ear transition," and there are. In his next blog post, Urban will discuss how marsupials are shedding light on ancient evolutionary events.

Read the full post here


Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor 


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