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Prehistoric Climate Change and Why It Matters Today

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Earth and Space Sciences +2 Age Levels Primary (5 to 8 years old), Intermediate (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (12 to 15 years old)

In a lesson in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, students do the work of a team of paleontologists studying a time of rising carbon dioxide and rapid global warming during the Eocene epoch. By examining fossils of tree leaves, and then incorporating the findings into a mathematical formula, they are able to tell average annual temperatures 55 million years ago. Really!

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