Brilliant Barnacles

Evidence for evolutionary relationships

This module uses barnacles, small filter feeding marine crustaceans that fix themselves on rocks and boats, as the basis for students to learn the principles of classification, taxonomy and phylogeny.

Darwin took eight years to study every known fossil and living barnacle and his work forms the basis upon which the serious study of barnacle classification and evolution has been based.

In this module students will study barnacle morphology, life histories and life styles as Darwin did. He based his classification and search for a common ancestor upon his studies. Recent work using genetic and molecular evidence and scanning electron microscopy shows how some of the key difficulties in drawing the phylogenetic tree of barnacles have been resolved very recently by systematists and how some new questions have been raised.

Artemia, the brine shrimp, is used to explore the body plan of arthropod crustaceans and to understand how the taxonomic hierarchy is worked out through simple microscope work.

Resources

Teachers Pack

Pack containing specification links, lesson notes, lesson timings, background information and answers to worksheets and tasks.

Student Pack

Pack of worksheets that accompany the module, includes extension activities and an exam-style question.

Lesson 1 - Morphology and life histories of barnacles

Powerpoint presentation to accompany lesson notes in teacher's pack.

Lesson 2 - Building the tree of life - molecular evidence

Powerpoint presentation to accompany lesson notes in teacher's pack.

Lesson 3 - New evidence from scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

Powerpoint presentation to accompany lesson notes in teacher's pack.

Darwin Inspired Scientists

Miranda Lowe, Collections Manager (Invertebrates) at the Natural History Museum, explains her work as a scientist and the legacy of Darwin's studies on barnacles.