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Students download diversity data from the PBDB for Veneridae and Hippuritoida bivalves and plot diversity curves in Excel to illustrate the rapid diversification of these bivalves and the timing of extinction of Hippuritoida. This portion of the lab reinforces concepts discussed in class such as origination and extinction. Students use the mapping software contained in the PBDB to plot distributions of bivalves for the Devonian, Cretaceous and Pleistocene and consider their relationship to changes in sea-level. Animal migration is illustrated using ungulate and horse fossil distributions. For example, students create maps that plot the location of horse fossils in the Oligocene, Middle Miocene, Late Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene. By doing so, students are able to constrain the timing of the formation of the Panama land bridge. This exercise reinforces the importance of the relationship between continental configuration and animal migration over geologic time scales.
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