Before visiting the museum, you should read the following pages in Freeman, Biological Science, 6th ed. They provide information that will help you as you make your way through this assignment.
498 – 500 (How do researchers estimate phylogenies?)
661 – 673 (vertebrate characteristics)
The AMNH is located between West 77th & West 81st Streets at Central Park West, in Manhattan. You can reach the AMNH via the 1 train (79th Street station) and B & C trains (81st Street station); a limited amount of paid and on-street parking is also available. The 1 train is available at the PATH at 14th Street. The B train is available at the PATH at 33rd St. The C train is available at the PATH at the World Trade Center. A donation is requested on admission to the museum. Bring your NJCU ID for a student discount. Museum maps are available at the first-floor information desk.
You will spend your time on the 4th floor, in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins, Hall of Saurichian Dinosaurs, Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs and Hall of Mammals and Extinct Relatives of Mammals.
Watch the short film, Evolution of Vertebrates, in the Orientation Center. You will see several cladograms as you walk through the various halls. View the cladogram on the wall between the Orientation Center and the Hall of Vertebrate Origins. Please take a photo of the cladogram to confirm with me that it is the correct one.
1. Name and briefly describe (where needed) the six physical characteristics that are used to divide the major groups of vertebrates on the vertebrate cladogram shown between the Orientation Center and the Hall of Vertebrate Origins.
As you walk through the 4th floor, you will see several other cladograms, one on the wall in the Hall of Saurichian Dinosaurs just outside the Dino Store and another in the Hall of Ornithichian Dinosaurs just outside the Dino Store. Pay particular attention to the traits listed on these cladograms as you consider your answers to Question 2 or Question 3. You will also see signposts such as the one pictured on page 2 of this handout. Each signpost focuses on a particular trait found on one of the cladograms.
As you walk through the various 4th floor halls, pay particular attention to exhibits on the origin and evolution of limbs and the origin and evolution of the skull. In a short essay:
2. Choose a group of six fossils of different ages from the halls you visit. Trace the evolution of the types of vertebrate limbs in the fossils you have chosen, focusing on the relationships between structure and function.
3 Choose a group of six fossils of different ages from the halls you visit. Trace the evolution of the skull, noting changes in anatomy and focusing on the relationships between structure and function.
This paper must be based on information you find at the AMNH. Discuss at least six specific AMNH fossils by name (genus and species, if provided) to illustrate your answers to Question 2 or Question 3. Starting with the oldest fossil organism and working toward the most recent, describe the anatomical changes that have taken place in the limbs or skull of each fossil organism and correlate these changes with function. Each of you will likely choose different fossils to trace the evolution of skull or limbs. Photos or illustrations may be included in your answer, but are not required.
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