Associated Shape of Life Content
When you collect marine animals, there are certain flatworms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of seawater.
Around 20,000 flatworm species today have the same basic body plan that appeared roughly 500 million years ago.
The paleontological evidence of the first animal to hunt is tiny trails that have been fossilized in rocks. To start this lesson, students will consider the tracks and traces left by modern animals and what they can learn about an animal from its tracks. They then think about which animal might have been the first hunter. The class considers what it takes to be a hunter and what kind of evidence can we use to figure out what was the first hunter. Students write their ideas in their science notebooks and the teacher shares the ideas with the entire class.
Marine flatworms are mainly carnivores that prey on tiny animals (protozoa, copepods and other worms) or feed on immobile animals such as bryozoans and tunicates. Flatworms play a role in many food chains. Some flatworms are parasites and parasites of all sorts are essential to most food webs and even in some food webs make up the majority of the biomass.
Some species of intertidal flatworms may be able to adapt to changing conditions due to climate change.
Parasites cause the vast majority of human interactions with flatworms. Flukes and tapeworms are the two groups of parasitic flatworms. And many can infect people sometimes causing disease.
Researchers say tiny marine worms called acoels may be one of the closest living representatives of the first bilaterally symmetrical organisms. Using DNA analyses, the team concluded not only that the acoels don't belong with other flatworms, but that they alone represent a living relic of the transition between radially symmetrical animals such as jellyfish and more complex bilateral organisms such as flatworms.
Read: Getting A Head The First Hunter from the Shape of Life book.
Antoni Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect, found his inspirations from nature. From trees to light to whale bones, Gaudi used solutions from nature for structural support or decoration. He is not unique in using natural engineering to solve problems in our daily lives. In this lesson, we will investigate how, through the process of evolution, animals have solved their engineering problems and how people have mimicked those natural solutions.
After note taking during the phyla episodes of the shapeoflife.org, student pairs will randomly pick an invertebrate from the hat. After doing more in-depth research on their chosen invertebrate, student pairs will design and create a flyer that will promote the invertebrate’s special abilities. Furthermore, the students will find at least one video clip of their invertebrate from the shapeoflife.org website to present to the class as evidence of their claims. Finally the student pair will argue why their invertebrate should be crowned the “World’s Most Awesome Invertebrate.”
In this lesson students engage in the practice of science by observing behaviors using Shape of Life videos with the audio and closed captioning turned off.
A list of questions about the characteristics of flatworms to use after viewing the video Flatworms: the First Hunter.
Shape of Life: Platyhelminthes Worksheet. Students make sketches and write short answers to questions about the amazing world of flatworms.
A Powerpoint with questions to answer while watching the video Flatworms: The First Hunter
Planarians are small flatworms known for their amazing ability to regenerate. As the naturalist John Graham Dalyell wrote in 1814, planarians could “almost be called immortal under the edge of the knife. They can tear themselves in half and regrow complete bodies. They can retain memories despite decapitation. And if you chop them into little pieces, each piece will start acting like a perfectly intact worm.“
In this activity students explore how animals are classified. For centuries taxonomists have been classifying the diversity of animal life based on observations and measurements of animals’ body plans. And now, with DNA sequencing, scientists have for the most part confirmed the work of earlier taxonomists. Students will learn the characteristics that define five of the major invertebrate phyla by watching videos, reading and sorting animal cards. The phyla are: Cnidarians, Annelids, Arthropods, Molluscs, and Echinoderms.