Bones, Brawn & Brains
RayTroll’s renditions of everything from salmon to marine mammals to creatures only found in the fossil record have become iconic in fishing, scientific, and environmental activism communities around the world. He seeks inspiration from extensive field work in marine science, paleontology, geology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. His paintings and mixed-media drawings are in the collections of the Miami Museum of Science, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Alaska Airlines, the Anchorage Museum, the Alaska State Museum, and the Ketchikan Museum.
The history of the animals whose descendants would be the first to breathe air and live on land begins over half-a-billion years ago, when the earliest members of a group called arthropods branched off from their ancestral roots of primitive, bilateral animals. These creatures quickly became powerful hunters and scavengers and established patterns of adaptability and dominance that continue into the present.
New Resources tell a magnificent story from 500 million years ago!
The story of the Cambrian Explosion of life is one of the greatest moments in science. Learn more about this one-of-a-kind story with our comprehensive view into the evolution of life in our world. You can find a new Shape of Life chapter "The Cambrian Explosion: A Big Bang in the Evolution of Animals".
Talk about great design!
Marine Arthropods quickly became powerful hunters and scavengers, and established patterns of adaptability and dominance that continue into the present.
Even if you accept the notion that nature has no obligation to make sense, echinoderms are enigmas that evolved like no other animals on earth. Their curtain went up over half-a-billion years ago, along with those of all the other basic blueprints for building an animal, but they tell an entirely different evolutionary story.
Our particularly intimate relationship with molluscs is due largely to their tasty, fleshy bodies, which have been an easy meal for millions of other animals in the food web since they first emerged during the Cambrian explosion. With that kind of vulnerability, and because they couldn’t outrun predators, early molluscs came up with armor to survive. It's a fascinating story.
Read the latest chapter, Armor and Speed, the Survival Game, adapted from the Shape of Life book.
Must be nice. Sitting around all day while your food comes to you. Just spinning and grabbing grub from all directions. Learn what ancient solutions can teach us today with the Mollusc's merry-go-round radial symmetry in our new Mollusc lesson plan.
In general these lessons ply an “explore-before-explain” pedagogy, in which students make and interpret observations for themselves as a prelude to formal explanations and the cultivation of key scientific concepts. There are splashes of inquiry and scientific process using authentic data, and students are pressed to think at higher cognitive levels. Instruction is organized around three unifying themes – the macroevolutionary patterns of divergence, convergence, and coevolution – and students learn to interpret diverse biological phenomena of these patterns.
Over the millions of years that animals have been living on earth, they have learned to exploit every available source of food and to do that, many have become hunters of other animals. At some point in the distant past, the first animals capable of actively hunting showed up with bodies suited for the job, and lions, tigers, sharks, people and all the rest of the world’s hunters inherited their tools. The earthworm predators of Scotland, giant tapeworms in Mississippi, and parasitic flatworms that wreck hundreds of thousands of human lives are the descendants of those first hunters that have carried their body architecture into the present. They don’t make very good company, but they have a heck of a story to tell.