Many of our teaching resources are made possible with funding from the PromoScience programme of NSERC.
Surviving the winter
The fur of mammals protects them from the cold of Quebec winters. Their body is insulated from the cold dry air that surrounds them by the thick fur layer. Fur is also important because it allows some animals to camouflage themselves within the white snow, such as the polaR bear. In the summer, some species such as the Arctic fox, shed their fur so that they can camouflage in the darker environment of the summer tundra.
Photos: Polar bear, Muskox, Arctic Fox and Grey Wolf FUR in the Redpath Museum Quebec Biodiversity exhibit area.
The birds that live in the Arctic conditions of Quebec also adapted to living in the cold. For example, birds such as the Snowy owl and the Willow ptarmigan have evolved feathers to cover the legs and feet, which insulates them like the rest of their body to prevent heat loss. The ptarmigan also sheds its white winter feathers for a darker summer plumage to better hide from predators in the tundra.
Photos: Snowy owl, Willow ptarmigan (winter), Willow Ptarmigan (summer) FEATHERS in the Redpath Museum Quebec Biodiversity exhibit area.
Birds have evolved to feed on many different types of food items. The diversity of feeding habits can be determined by the type of beaks they have. Piscivorous species will have long and slender beaks to harpoon fish. Carnivorous species will have raptorial beaks to tear flesh from their prey. Insectivorous species will have short and narrow beaks to catch insects. Granivorous species will have short and bulky beaks to break nuts and seeds.
Photos: American Bittern, Northern Goshawk, Ovenbird, Evening Grosbeak showing BEAK DIVERSITY.
Predators have evolved several features to increase their chance of catching prey. Birds of prey possess strong talons to not only catch their prey, but also to hold it down while tearing pieces off with its raptorial beak. Mammalian predators have evolved similar features, such as strong claws to catch their prey and large canine teeth to tear off pieces of muscle and soft tissue.
Photos: Great Horned Owl, Osprey, Grey wolf, Canada Lynx showing features of PREDATION in the Quebec Biodiversity exhibit area.
The museum holds many specimens of threatened, endangered and even extinct species that lived in Quebec. These specimens allow visitors to observe the species that have been affected by humans. Some of these are species at risk and some are species that are already extinct such as the Passenger Pigeon.
Photos: Passenger pigeon, Atlantic Cod, and Harlequin Duck in the Quebec Biodiversity exhibit area at the Redpath Museum.
All Teacher's Resource booklets for teaching Quebec Biodiversity are available for free download here:
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LEVELS
SECONDARY SCHOOL LEVELS
The Map of Life
The Map of Life is a new, free, online resource about convergent evolution. Based out of Cambridge University, this resource is for CEGEP- and university-level students.
Dr. Anthony Ricciardi, Associate Professor at the Redpath Museum, and his students are studying invasive species in the St. Lawrence. Learn how zebra and quagga mussels, bloody red mysid shrimp, and the round goby are changing our local river ecosystem in this video from the Montreal Gazette and this video from the American Museum of Natural History.
Seahorses capture the imagination of young and old alike. Learn all about these amazing fish in this PowerPoint presentation for pre-school and elementary students. Seahorses
It's Greek to Me!
From amphi- to zyg-, this booklet explains many of the Greek and Latin words that make up scientific names and terms. Taken from the McGill Herpetology 327 course pack and used with permision from the author, this is for Science teachers and students in secondary and post-secondary schools. Greek and Latin Terms in Science.
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