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Origin and Diversity of Armor in Girdled Lizards

By Jennifer Broo

Mariemont High School

The girdled lizards (Cordylidae) are a family of distinctively armored lizards endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa. Students examine lizards in this family to classify the lizards based on morphological characteristics.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group iDigBio

Version 1.0 - published on 15 May 2020 doi:10.25334/RHVA-VZ96 - cite this

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

armor.png

Description

The girdled lizards (Cordylidae) are a family of distinctively armored lizards endemic to
Sub-Saharan Africa. Students examine lizards in this family to classify the lizards based on
morphological characteristics. Students graph data on the percentage of osteoderm
coverage in each lizard group and discover that natural selection due to predation has
resulted in lightly armored lizards living in large rocks and more heavily armored lizards
living in open areas. Students then compare their morphological classification to
phylogenetic trees created from DNA analysis and discover that convergent evolution is
responsible for differences in ostederm coverage within the Cordylidae family and in the
animal kingdom.


Subject, Grade, Level:
This activity is targeted for AP Biology.


Learning Objectives:
By the end of this activity, students will be able to:
1. Explain why molecular data provide more accurate and reliable evidence than
morphological traits when constructing phylogentic trees.
2. Differentiate between convergent and divergent evolution.

Timeframe:
4 class periods (50-minute periods

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