Lakeland University students in Paul Pickhardt’s BIO 320 evolution course spent Oct. 23 at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
In addition to going through the exhibition halls on evolution and the Earth’s past, students were taken behind-the-scenes to see research collections held at the museum.
John Bates, an associate curator and the section head of Life Sciences research at the Field Museum, provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to observe and handle preserved birds from the fourth largest collection in the world.
Bates pulled out numerous bird specimens illustrating the utility of cataloged collections for addressing scientific questions related to climate change, toxicology, sexual selection, natural and artificial selection and species conservation.
The students were able to handle birds of paradise collected by A. R. Wallace, who, along with Charles Darwin, came up with the mechanism of natural selection as a means to produce evolutionary change in the 19th century, and a giant egg from the now extinct, elephant birds of Madagascar.
Pickhardt has taken Lakeland’s evolution class to the Field Museum for a students as practitioner experience (SAP) every time he has taught the course.