African rift valleys were formed by the separation of tectonic plates. Water flows down to the valley floors, creating rivers and lakes.
Dr. John Shea demonstrates the two main principles in the study of rock layers: superposition and association.
The disappearance of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period posed one of the greatest, long-standing scientific mysteries. This three-act film tells the story of the extraordinary detective work that solved it.
A short article by Dr. Sean B. Carroll detailing the discoveries covered in the film The Day The Mesozoic Died.
A lesson in which students analyze the chemical data that led researchers to conclude that the K-T boundary layer contained an extraordinary concentration of iridium.
A lesson in which students read a passage and answer questions about the information presented, testing their non-fiction reading comprehension.
A worksheet in which students calculate how much iridium was released, and eventually deposited all over the Earth, by the impact of the asteroid that caused the K-T extinction.
A hands-on activity in which students see first-hand the difference in foraminifera fossils below and above the K-T boundary.
A worksheet in which students write down the evidence that led to the discovery that an asteroid struck Earth about 66 million years ago, causing a mass extinction.
EarthViewer was designed as an interactive learning tool. Download the PDF linked in the right hand column for some ideas on how to use the app in your class, or click on the EarthViewer link to find out more about the app.
A poster from the 2012 Holiday Lectures on Science, Changing Planet: Past, Present, Future. It details the importance of foraminifera, known as "forams" for short, in discovering significant changes in Earth's past.
A poster from the 2012 Holiday Lectures on Science, Changing Planet: Past, Present, Future. It illustrates how the Earth has evolved over the past 4.6 billion years, and highlights how that evolution influences biological evolution.
What did Earth look like 250 million years ago? Or 1 billion years ago? Or 4.5 billion years ago? EarthViewer is an interactive tool for tablet computers that allows you to explore the science of Earth's deep history. Get it now from the...
A lesson in which students analyze graphs and data on pollen grains and fern spores to form a picture of the living landscape before and after the K-T mass extinction.
Has Earth changed over deep time? How did Earth shape life and life shape Earth? What does Earth's climate in the distant past tell us about the future?
Microbes have been the dominant life form throughout Earth's history. Eukaryotes and animals evolved only after microbes evolved oxygen-generating photosynthesis.
The theory of plate tectonics took many decades to become accepted. The process by which it was finally accepted provides a fascinating glimpse into how scientists build new scientific consensus.
Earth has been both cooler and warmer in the past, but the change is usually gradual. The current rate of carbon dioxide increase is unprecedented in human history, and solutions to mitigate its effect on global warming are challenging to implement.
Scientific evidence for global climate change is overwhelming, yet the American public remains skeptical. History provides insights into how a Cold War-era think tank became an influential source of anti-regulation sentiment.
A discussion on climate change with the students attending the 2012 Holiday Lectures on Science.
Students discuss the short film after a screening at the 2012 Holiday Lectures on Science.
Continents rose in elevation after ice sheets from the last ice age retreated. This suggested that the underlying mantle is pliable.
The concept that continents float on a pliable mantle is an important element of the theory of continental drift.
Dr. Lyson describes dinosaur digs as well as his focus on prehistoric turtle fossils.
Reconstructing past continental plate movements reveals the island of Spitsbergen was tropical 500 million years ago.
The breakup of a supercontinent into several smaller continents explains the distribution of fossil and geologic evidence.
An early model of continental drift proposed that parts of continental plates can sink into the mantle, allowing for movement.
An early continental drift model proposed that mantle convection can produce continental movement and new plate formation.
Sunlight that warms Earth is re-emitted as infrared radiation, which is absorbed by greenhouse gases and causes further warming.
CO2 emitted by volcanoes into the atmosphere is removed by a...
Arctic sea ice melted on an unprecedented scale in 2012, opening up the fabled Northwest and Northeast passages.
The record of life on Earth stretches over 3 billion years. Deep time and Earth history are keys to understanding the present.
Earth's climate is a complex system controlled by many factors. This Click and Learn will examine the two most important factors: solar radiation and the composition of Earth's atmosphere.
Explore the changes in oxygen levels throughout Earth’s history and discover their impact on life.
This hands-on activity requires students to “visit” different K-T boundary sites.
Summaries and links to the data files used to create the charts in EarthViewer, including the APK file to manually install the app.
Watch this 30-second tour of how EarthViewer works and how to use the interface.
Plate tectonics is the unifying theory of Earth science.
A text transcript of the 2012 Holiday Lectures on Science, Changing Planet: Past, Present, Future.
Tiktaalik roseae, also known as the “fishapod,” is an animal that lived about 375 million years ago, with features of fish and four-legged animals.
This activity guides students through building a conceptual model of how carbon dioxide affects Earth's climate
This student worksheet highlights climate concepts in the EarthViewer app.
This activity supports the viewing of the film The Origin of Species: The Making of a Theory. Before and after watching the film, students discuss and evaluate several statements about Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, and the specific evidence that led each of them to the theory...
This activity supports the HHMI short film The Origin of Species: The Making of a Theory. Students are presented with a map of the Malay Archipelago and some field notebooks with observations of animals. By plotting which animals are found on which island, the students discover the...
The fossils of transitional creatures were key evidence for Darwin’s evolutionary theory, but none had been found when he published On the Origin of Species. Now, there are many examples of such fossils, which clearly show that big evolutionary leaps consist of many smaller steps.
This article by Gorongosa National Project staff explains the project’s history, mission, and future goals.
The poster supporting the 2014 Holiday Lectures, Biodiversity in the Age of Humans, illustrates many ways that humans are affecting the earth.
Prehistoric extinction rates are calculated from fossil data in a paleodatabase and compared to today’s extinction rate.
What steps can be taken to avoid the sixth mass extinction?
The story of Alfred Wegener, who came up with the idea that continents once formed a single landmass and had drifted apart.