Investigating a Deep Sea Mystery is based on Deep-sea mystery solved: astonishing larval transformation and extreme sexual dimorphism unite three fish families by Johnson, et al. (2009)* published in Biology Letters, Royal Society. The deep sea fishes at the heart of the investigation and this activity were historically classified into three families or clades based on the obvious morphological differences between the members of each group. Over time, as new data was accumulated, a new hypothesis was generated; the three fish clades were really one. Johnson, et al. found patterns in collection data that supported an alternative relationship; that they are the males, females, and larvae of a single family or clade, and that the morphological differences are the result of extreme ontogenetic (developmental) metamorphosis and sexual dimorphism. In this activity students follow the steps of the science team to unravel the mystery of the fishes' classification by analyzing some of the same morphological and phylogenetic data as the science team.
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