Evolution Mosaic.
Article Type: Website overview
Subject: Web sites (Services)
Author: Waller, Pat
Pub Date: 08/01/2010
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: August, 2010 Source Volume: 72 Source Issue: 6
Topic: Event Code: 360 Services information Computer Subject: Company Web site/Web page
Product: Name: Evolution Mosaic (Online service)
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 245037773
Full Text: Evolution Mosaic (http://elearn.mtsac.edu/ elawlor/mosaic). [c] 2009 Elizabeth J. Lawlor. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/).

The Web site Evolution Mosaic provides a different approach to human evolution by looking at the evolutionary development of various human systems through the use of data from The Paleobiology Database (http:// paleodb.org/cgi-bin/bridge.pl). As the author explains, "evolution tends to affect each functional system separately, not all at once." The site provides information for the support of this idea and can be a valuable resource for high school and college students, as well as their teachers.

The home page contains an illustration of a human (identified by the Web site's author as "Adam") and a timeline. Thirty regions of interest on the human body are delineated by rectangles for identification and navigation through the site. When the cursor is moved over a region of the body, the rectangle's lines are highlighted and a dot is illuminated on the timeline to indicate the age of the earliest known fossil for this region of the body. The reverse also works: move the cursor over a dot, and the rectangle of the body region is highlighted. A click on a region takes you to a page with information and additional resources for the highlighted body region. At the top of the page for each body region is a brief description (one or two paragraphs) about the fossil. Below this information are the navigation words "Details and Links." A click here provides more information on the same page, with links to navigate to enrichment sites.

These links provide supporting information in many forms: diagrams, photos, film clips, and written information. The dates of the earliest fossil records for the body parts and some of the controversies related the study of human evolution are included in these resources. A click on one of the listed resources navigates directly to Web sites such as Smithsonian Human Origins Program, National Geographic Society, American Museum of Natural History New Scientist articles, McGill University, and the PBS Nova Series "Neanderthals on Trial." These resources are more easily understood by those not familiar with the field of anthropology than the sources listed as references. The references are journals read by professionals in the field, such as Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Journal of Human Evolution.

This Web site appears to be a work in progress, with only half of the regions active at the time of this review. However, the 15 active regions provide a wealth of information for classroom use. A caution to middle and high school teachers: the initial diagram has a strategically placed "fig leaf" that may be of concern, especially when you click on the region and the linked page is termed "naughtybits." Direct use by middle school students will be limited because of the detail provided in the text material. However, the abundance of visual material will provide middle school teachers with good material to share with students. The author has chosen to focus on some aspects of the body regions that are not usually discussed in high school classrooms. For example, on the torso page: "Here's something few people think about: the origin of the torso, the area from shoulders to hips. Why is our torso short and broad, like that of the great apes, rather than long and cylindrical, like that of monkeys?" Another example can be found on the page about the thumb. Here the focus is on the development of the fingernail, not the thumb. This approach, with a touch of humor, invites the students to think beyond the usual skeletal characteristics discussed in classrooms. Teachers at all levels can use this site to update their knowledge and add to their own understanding of human evolution.

For efficient use, the Web site's author recommends that the site works best in the Firefox browser with Javascript enabled. Each of the information pages and some of the diagrams can be accessed in a "Printer Friendly" form. This reviewer found that the navigation worked well with the Safari browser. The site is easy to navigate and provides an abundance of readily available, up-to-date information from peer-reviewed journals. Educators at the high school and college levels will find this a helpful tool to enhance students' understanding of human evolution.

DOI: 10.1525/abt.2010.72.6.16

Pat Waller

NABT President-2007


JEFFREY SACK has taught all types of high school biology in both public and private schools for the past 12 years. His scientific interests include marine ecology and bird behavior, and his educational interests include the relationship between scientific content knowledge and pedagogy and the uses of instructional technology in the classroom. Sack holds degrees in biology from the University of Rhode Island and Central Connecticut State University, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut state university. His address is 67 Cedar Lake Road, Chester, CT 06412; e-mail: cnidaria@comcast.net.
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