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Webcast: Endless forms most beautiful


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In lecture one of a four part series, evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll discusses Darwin and his two most important ideas: natural selection and common ancestry.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Grade level:

60 minutes

Teaching tips:
This lecture may be most useful for advanced high school biology courses. Clips of the lecture (now available as an indexed video with synchronized slides) might provide students with an experience similar to that of a first year college student. An interesting and useful exercise would be to have students watch the lecture (or part of it), take notes, and then process with classmates what the experience was like (both in terms of the content they learned and the way in which the lecture format challenged them to listen, absorb, and take notes).

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

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)

  • 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)

  • 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. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)

  • Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.

Teacher background:

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