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Lesson summary for:
The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection in Humans

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Overview:
This 14-minute film describes the connection between the infectious parasitic disease malaria and the genetic disease sickle cell anemia - one of the best-understood examples of natural selection in humans.

Author/Source:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
15-30 minutes

Teaching tips:
HHMI provides a variety of teacher resources for use with this video: an in-depth film guide, student quiz, two worksheets and three student lessons.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Some traits of organisms are not adaptive.

  • There is a fit between the form of a trait and its function, though not always a perfect fit.

  • Evolution is often defined as a change in allele frequencies within a population.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • Evolution results from mutations.

  • Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.

  • Phenotype is a product of both genotype and the organism’s interactions with the environment.

  • New heritable traits can result from mutations.

  • Mutation is a random process.

  • Organisms cannot intentionally produce adaptive mutations in response to environmental influences.

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations.

  • Depending on environmental conditions, inherited characteristics may be advantageous, neutral, or detrimental.

  • Natural selection can act on the variation in a population in different ways.

  • Natural selection sometimes favors heterozygotes over homozygotes at a locus.

  • Heterozygote advantage preserves genetic variation at that locus (i.e., within the population, it maintains multiple alleles at that locus).

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