The ability to digest milk is a recent evolutionary innovation that has spread through some human populations. This news brief from April 2007 describes how evolution has allowed different human populations to take advantage of the nutritional possibilities of dairying and links evolution with the prevalence of lactose tolerance among people of different ethnicities.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This article includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as a sidebar that would be appropriate for AP students. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. This example could be easily integrated into instruction on Mendelian genetics, since lactose tolerance is inherited as a dominant Mendelian trait. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.
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. (LS4.C)
- An organism’s features reflect its evolutionary history.
- The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.
- There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms.
- Mutations are random.
- Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Depending on environmental conditions, inherited characteristics may be advantageous, neutral, or detrimental.
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)
- Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.
- Our understanding of life through time is based upon multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.