Lecture 2.6 Competencies and Study Guide

Evidence for Evolution


Auditory bulla
Synapomorphic trait
Vestigial trait
Law of succession
DNA sequence alignment


  1. Identify skeletons of Indohyus, Ambulocetus, Dorudon and modern right whales.
  2. Compare and contrast the digits and auditory bullae of the species mentioned above.
  3. Explain the unique characteristics of the auditory bullae of cetaceans.
  4. Describe the basic anatomy of the vertebrate fore- and hind-limb; include names of all bones in the arm and leg.
  5. Explain which parts of the basic limb body plan are common to all vertebrates, at least in the embryo and fetus.
  6. Describe at least one vestigial trait in both cetaceans and humans.
  7. Describe the embryonic development of hind limbs in cetaceans.
  8. Describe how anatomical features of Indohyus, Ambulocetus, Dorudon and modern whales and dolphins correlate with ages of the fossils to suggest change through time.
  9. Explain how transitional fossils support the notion that species change through time using examples.
  10. Explain the concept of descent with modification.
  11. Interpret cladograms (phylogenies) using the concept of descent with modification.
  12. Give examples of transitional fossils in the cetacean lineage.
  13. Explain how pelycosaurs, cynodonts and modern mammals can be interpreted as transitional fossils.
  14. Describe transitional forms between dinosaurs and birds.
  15. Describe transitional forms between fish and amphibians.
  16. Explain how we compare species using DNA sequences.
  17. Explain how DNA and physical characteristics (morphology) of modern species and fossils relate to the fossil sequences of cetaceans discussed in the earlier portion of the lecture.
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