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Students use what they know about evolution and medicine to review an article written for a school publication. The task is to identify errors, explain the incorrect statements, and correct the information. They then explain the process of natural selection by creating a labeled illustration using one of the examples from an earlier lesson.
National Institutes of Health
This lesson is set up as a group work assignment. However, it could be used as an individual assignment in a smaller class. Students will need some background knowledge on enzyme function, genetics, molecular genetics, and cladistics/evolutionary trees.
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.
- Similarities among existing organisms (including morphological, developmental, and molecular similarities) reflect common ancestry and provide evidence for evolution.
- Not all similar traits are homologous; some are the result of convergent evolution.
- Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.
- 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.
- An individual’s fitness (or relative fitness) is the contribution that individual makes to the gene pool of the next generation relative to other individuals in the population.
- An organism’s fitness depends on both its survival and its reproduction.
- As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life, for example in agriculture, biodiversity and conservation biology, and medicine and health.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.