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Orange jellyfish swimming

 Phyla

Molluscs

Associated Shape of Life Content

The Mussel– A Not-So-Typical Mollusc

Lab dissection of a representative of Class Bivalvia. Supported by several Shape of Life segments, students interpret bivalve adaptations as a radical case of divergent evolution: A simple ancestral snail with a mobile lifestyle, single dome-shaped shell, bilateral symmetry, and a head (“cephalization”) transformed into a headless, double-shelled, sedentary filter-feeder whose bilateral form is obscure.

SNIPS AND SNAILS AND GASTROPOD TAILS

A brief hands-on investigation of Class Gastropoda (snails and slugs), followed by a critical thinking exercise centered on segments of the Shape of Life. Students first examine the bodies and behavior of live slugs or snails, then use water balloons to model their unique style of locomotion, and finally tackle a series of analytical questions designed to cultivate a grasp of divergent evolution: the branching of a single ancestral form into multiple new forms for diverse new functions, niches, and habitats.

Octopus Intelligence

“Brainy, colorful, fast, sophisticated, strange, inspiring – cephalopods have been on the planet for about 500 million years and have fascinated humans for thousands of year.” Octopus, Squid & Cuttlefish: A Visual, Scientific Guide To The Oceans.

Squid – Instructor Guide

Lab dissection of a squid, a member of Class Cephalopoda (along with the octopus and nautilus). Supported by several Shape of Life segments, students interpret squid adaptations as a radical case of divergent evolution: A line of ancestral snails abandoned the life of sluggish grazing and foraging in favor of a new niche as speedy open water predators. Students will understand that the shelled, but squid-like nautilus, is a “transitional form” en route to the swimming, shell- less cephalopods. Finally, they use the squid to explore another macroevolutionary pattern: convergent evolution.

Molluscs: Gastropod - Instructor Guide

A brief hands-on investigation of Class Gastropoda (snails and slugs), followed by a critical thinking exercise centered on segments of the Shape of Life. Students first examine the bodies and behavior of live slugs or snails, then use water balloons to model their unique style of locomotion, and finally tackle a series of analytical questions designed to cultivate a grasp of divergent evolution: the branching of a single ancestral form into multiple new forms for diverse new functions, niches, and habitats.

The Eastern Oyster: A Not-So-Typical Mollusc

Lab dissection of a representative of Class Bivalvia. Supported by several Shape of Life segments, students interpret bivalve adaptations as a radical case of divergent evolution: A simple ancestral snail with a mobile lifestyle, single dome-shaped shell, bilateral symmetry, and a head (“cephalization”) transformed into a headless, double-shelled, sedentary filter-feeder whose bilateral form is obscure.

Nature’s Innovations

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.

World’s Most Awesome Invertebrate

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.”

Biomimicry

Nature has inspired inventions since the first humans tried to make things. Biomimicry is the practice of looking to nature to help solve design problems. Today scientists and engineers are finding inspiration from animals and plants that may surprise you.

Activity: Invertebrate Critter Cards

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.

Finding the Hole Truth About Piddock Clams in the Monterey Bay

This week, a series of large winter storms delivered hundreds of strange rocks riddled with perfectly smooth drill holes. A treasure trove to curious beachcombers, begs the question, “Who or what made all those holes?!”

The holes are the work of industrious molluscs called piddock clams or, more commonly, boring clams. Some 16 different species of not-so-boring clams call Monterey Bay home

Our Oceans: The Frontier for Curious Minds

By Nancy Burnett, Founder, Shape of Life

I just went to a wonderful workshop about plankton. We may as well fess up to the fact that there’s a whole world out there in the ocean that we haven't told you about, yet. Most marine animals that we know and love started out in life looking very different from what they look like as adults.

At the beginning of life, they hatch out of eggs that float in the water or are attached to the bottom of the ocean. The tiny larvae feed, grow and change form in the ocean as part of the zooplankton. These fragile, otherworldly creatures swim or drift in the currents for months at a time before settling to the bottom to change into adults.