Grade Level

High School




Stephanie Keep, Kelsey Lucas

Lesson Summary

Students take simple measurements to model the procedure by which a group of researchers discovered an unexpected example of convergent evolution. Through data analysis and critical thinking, students learn how natural selection can result in the evolution of striking similarities among very different animals. Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define convergent evolution and apply its definition to the question of why proportions of propulsors (wings, tail fins, etc.) are similar across different groups of animals;
  • define adaptation and understand the criteria used to determine whether a trait is an adaptation or not;
  • describe the mechanism by which adaptations spread in populations; and
  • explain and apply the use of ratios when comparing measurements at different scales.



Science and Engineering Practices:

SP4, SP5

MA Science and Technology/Engineering (2016):

HS-LS4-1, HS-LS4-2

NGSS (2013):


Common Core Math/Language Arts Standards:



adaptation, convergent evolution, fitness, heritable, natural selection, propulsor, ratio

Educator SoundBites

" I am glad to see some hands on activities centered around evolutionary concepts. It is especially helpful to have actual current research for students to read. I look forward to using other BiteScis lessons!"
Fran Pruyn, Silver Lake Regional High School, Kingston, MA -

"My students really enjoyed this lesson. Most had no idea that scientists studied movements in animals. I'm looking forward to trying more BiteScis activities!"
Danielle Williams, Morrison High School, Morrison, OK/i> -

Lesson Documents


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