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3 Tutorials that teach Fossils
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Next Generation: HS.LS4.1 MS.LS4.2 MS.LS4.2 NGSS


Author: Nathan Lampson

This lesson will explain how fossils can be used to determine evolutionary relationships

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Genetic similarities between organisms can be displayed with a chart called a cladogram.  A cladogram starts with the oldest common ancestor and works towards the most recent genetic divergence.  Fossils can be used to determine the relationships between organisms based on similarities.


This cladogram displays the displays difference between modern organisms, however, the same system can be applied to ancient fossils in order to determine evolutionary relationships.


In this cladogram, branches of organisms possess all of the characteristics to the left, but are lacking characteristics to the right on the cladogram.
Ex.  A monkey can produce milk, has lungs, and has a pectoral girdle; monkeys don't have a dorsal fin.