Paleonet: Teaching: making paleo relevant

Peter Smolka PeterPaulSmolka at
Mon Feb 4 10:20:35 UTC 2013

A few years ago there was an article in Nature on "observed ongoing evolution in context of environmental change".

They had "E. coli" bacteria - and - by changing environmental conditions in the lab a new subspecies formed which they called
"E. coli erlenmayeri".

Considering the short time of that experiment it is a good example on how new subspecies / species survive if the environment (here: the changed
environment) makes living possible for them.

For all who ask "did anybody ever see evolution while it happens?": Take the article from Nature.

If needed I can look it up (I have the paper-versions right here) but it takes some time.

And with ongoing environmental change, not only CO2-levels: Possibly the "Nature-experiment" might be an experiment for new microbiota, such
as marine bacteria in case of acidity-changes; new terrestrial bacteria in case of CO2-changes.

Statistically among all new species thete are always some that are incompatible to existing, e.g. who form new pests and illnesses: Thus contributing
to - sometimes - extinctions of others.

Thus: Environmental change and evolution, based on the Nature Article on "E. coli erlenmayeri" is a good example for teaching.

Above is a private posting.

Peter P. Smolka
  -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
  Von: paleonet-bounces at [mailto:paleonet-bounces at]Im Auftrag von diane.brent.ashcraft
  Gesendet: Sonntag, 3. Februar 2013 21:15
  An: paleonet at
  Betreff: Re: Paleonet: Teaching: making paleo relevant

  I teach intro biology classes for college.  When I get to evolution, I use examples of fossil evidence found specifically in our area, and how our enviornment has changed locally.  I also try to take a field trip to collect fossils and see some of the remnant habitat left.

  Brent Ashcraft

  Sent from Samsung tablet

  Thomas Hegna <thegna at> wrote:

    To those of you who teach classes like Historical Geology, History of the Earth, and Paleontology: how do you make connections between events in the past (both in terms of mechanism and scale) and those we see today? I feel like thus far in my teaching I have kept these connections too general (sea-level rise, climate change, etc.) and not tied it down with meaningful specifics. How do others approach this?

  Thomas A. Hegna

  Department of Geology
  Western Illinois University
  Tillman Hall 113
  1 University Circle
  Macomb, IL 61455
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Paleonet mailing list