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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

Resource library : What is evolution and how does it work?
Genetics

Resources:

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Webcast: Selection in action  Advanced
In lecture two of a four part series, evolutionary biologist David Kingsley discusses how just a few small genetic changes can have a big effect on morphology, using examples from maize, dog breeding, and stickleback fish.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

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Webcast: Fossils, genes, and embryos  Advanced
In lecture three of a four part series, evolutionary biologist David Kingsley examines the original objections to Darwin's theory and shows how modern evidence supports the theory.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

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Webcast: From butterflies to humans
In lecture four of a four part series, evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll uses the developmental genetics of insects to explain how old genes can learn new tricks and how this can help us understand human evolution.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

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Evo in the news: Evolution at the scene of the crime
This news brief, from March 2006, describes how DNA fingerprinting is being used to prosecute and exonerate the accused. DNA fingerprinting relies on the processes of mutation and genome evolution.

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Francis Crick and James Watson: DNA, the language of evolution
Watson and Crick figured out the structure of DNA and decrypted the genetic code, laying the foundation for revolutionary techniques in the fields of genetics and evolution.
This article is located within History of Evolutionary Thought.

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Genetic variation: The basics
Genetic variation is a key component of evolution. Learn what it is, where it comes from, and why it’s so important.
This article is located within Evolution 101.

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DNA and mutations  Advanced
Mutations are the ultimate source of genetic variation and are therefore, essential to evolution. Learn more about the causes, effects, and types of mutations, as well as their role in evolution.

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Evo in the news: Hotspots for evolution
Why are there so many different species in the tropics? This news brief, from June 2006, suggests why: warmer weather may be linked to a quicker pace for evolution.

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Evo in the news: A chink in HIV's evolutionary armor
Medical researchers have spent billions of dollars and many decades trying to develop an HIV vaccine but have, thus far, failed. Why is an HIV vaccine so elusive? This news brief from March 2007 explains how HIV's rapid rate of evolution challenges medicine and describes a new discovery that may allow vaccine developers to sidestep that evolution.

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Understanding Genetics
Need to review a topic in genetics? This website provides a diverse selection of relevant resources, including reviews of basic concepts in genetics, activities, articles on genetics in the news, and a library of answers to your genetics questions.
This website is produced by the Tech Museum of Innovation.

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Evo in the news: Got lactase?  Advanced
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.

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Evo in the news: Seeing the tree for the twigs  Advanced
Recent research has revealed that, in at least some ways, chimpanzees have evolved more than humans have. This news brief from May 2007 delves into this finding further and, in the process, debunks common misperceptions of human evolution.

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Evo in the news: Cheating cheetahs prosper
Biologists have discovered that female cheetahs consistently seek out multiple mates. This news brief, from July 2007, explains how the evolutionary implications of this behavior may help conservation efforts targeting these endangered animals.

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Webcast: The science of evolution
Evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll introduces the field of Evo-Devo, using examples from fruit flies, butterflies, and icefish to explain how this research is transforming our understanding of evolution.
This video is available from the New York Times website.

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Evo in the news: Genealogy enthusiasts mine DNA for clues to evolutionary history  Advanced
This news brief, from November 2007, turns an evolutionary lens on businesses that use DNA for genealogy research and, in the process, illuminates what their genetic tests really track.

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Evo in the news: Evolution in the fast lane?  Advanced
Have humans, with all of our technological advances, exempted ourselves from further evolution? Perhaps not. This news brief, from February 2008, examines genetic research which suggests that human evolution may haved actually accelerated in our recent history.

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Evo in the news: Superbug, super-fast evolution
Methicillin-resistant staph infections now contribute to more US deaths than does HIV. This news brief from April of 2008 explains the quirks of bacterial evolution that make them such a threat.

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Evo in the news: Ghosts of epidemics past
HIV and malaria both constitute global health threats, respectively affecting more than 30 million and 200 million people worldwide. This news brief from October 2008 describes new research that reveals an unexpected evolutionary link between the two.

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15 evolutionary gems
This succinct briefing describes 15 examples drawn from recent research that demonstrate evolutionary theory’s power to explain natural phenomena, along with some of their supporting lines of evidence--from whale fossils to the latest in genetics.
This resource is available from Nature magazine.

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A fin is a limb is a wing
New research reveals that evolution has repeatedly relied on a genetic tool kit to build both simple and complex structures.
This article appears at the National Geographic website.

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Gregor Mendel: Discrete genes are inherited
Though unknown to Darwin, Gregor Mendel's discoveries about the nature of genetic inheritence ended up being critical to the theory of evolution.
This article is located within History of Evolutionary Thought.

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Ronald Fisher, JBS Haldane, and Sewall Wright: Random mutations and evolutionary change
Ronald Fisher and colleagues made the connection between Mendelian genetics and real world evolution. Their approach, called population genetics, revealed how mutations can arise and spread through a population.
This article is located within History of Evolutionary Thought.

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Thomas Hunt Morgan: Chromosomes, mutation, and the birth of modern genetics
Thomas Hunt Morgan and colleagues worked out the physical basis of Mendelian genetics (the chromosome) and established the field of genetics, an essential component of modern evolutionary theory.
This article is located within History of Evolutionary Thought.

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Wilson, Sarich, Sibley, and Ahlquist: Genetic similarities
Researchers have used various methods to assess genetic similarity between species, but all provide evidence of the species' evolutionary relationships.
This article is located within History of Evolutionary Thought.

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Evo in the news: Making sense of ancient hominin DNA  Advanced
In March 2010 German researchers announced that they had managed to extract DNA from the 40,000 year old fossil bone from a child discovered in a Siberian cave and that it didn't match up to the known genetic sequences of either humans or Neanderthals! This news brief examines the evidence in more detail and considers what that evidence might — or might not — mean about such claims.

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Why the eye?  Advanced
Eyes are something of an icon of evolution. How did such an integrated, multi-part adaptation evolve? While many different animals have complex eyes, untangling their evolutionary history reveals both remarkable diversity and surprising similarity.

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Evolution connection: DNA replication
This short slide set explains the fidelity of DNA replication in evolutionary terms. Save the slide set to your computer to view the explanation and notes that go along with each slide.

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Mouse fur color
This case study in the form of a set of PowerPoint slides examines the evolution of light fur in beach mice from the molecular level up to the population genetics level.

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Pea taste
This case study in the form of a set of PowerPoint slides examines the evolution of the wrinkled pea from its ancestral round pea shape.

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High altitude adaptations: The work of Emilia Huerta-Sánchez  Advanced
This research profile follows statistician and population geneticist Emilia Huerta-Sánchez as she studies the adaptations that allow Tibetan highlanders to live 13,000 feet above sea level without developing altitude sickness.

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The Meaning of Genetic Variation
Students investigate variation in the beta globin gene by identifying base changes that do and do not alter function, and by using several internet-based resources to consider the significance in different environments of the base change associated with sickle cell disease.