Resource Image

When did I lose my legs? A limbless lizard tale

Author(s): Patrick Kelly

Leesburg High School

1242 total view(s), 483 download(s)

0 comment(s) (Post a comment)

Using oVERT project models students examine examples of extant traditional lizards, snakes and limbless lizards and create phylogenies based on trait and genetic data.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 11 Sep 2020 doi:10.25334/9E8R-CW58 - cite this


The anatomical record can lie. It's a fact of evolutionary biology. Through the use of models
created by the oVERT project, students will examine models of extant traditional lizards,
snakes and limbless lizards. Students will classify the organisms and create cladograms
based on their traits. Students will then use sequence data from these species to create
phylogenies showing the relationship between these species based on the more reliable
molecular record. Through the use of OneZoom, the relative timing of a common ancestor
between the three groups can be determined. Based on this activity, students should be
able to determine the best source in determining relatedness. This activity can easily be
branched into discussions of convergence/divergence and the principles of natural

Subject, Grade, Level:
This activity is targeted for high school Biology courses at all levels.

Learning objectives:
Students will be able to:
1. Analyze similarities/differences between species
2. Create a cladogram with multiple organisms
3. Evaluate the use of comparative anatomy and molecular data in determining evolutionary relationships
4. Interpret phylogenetic trees.


Science Standards:
 HS-LS4-1. Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological
evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.

SC.912.L.15.1 Explain how the scientific theory of evolution is supported by the
fossil record, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, biogeography,
molecular biology, and observed evolutionary change

SC.912.L.15.4 Describe how and why organisms are hierarchically classified and
based on evolutionary relationships.

SC.912.L.15.5 Explain the reasons for changes in how organisms are classified.

Instructor prep time is minimal. Two 50 minute periods

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows: