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The Evolution Lab contains two main parts. In the first, students build phylogenetic trees themed around the evidence of evolution, including fossils, biogeography, and similarities in DNA. In the second, students explore an interactive tree of life and trace the shared ancestry of numerous species.
The Evolution Lab is best used as an introduction to an evolution unit. Students should possess prerequisite knowledge of the structure of DNA in order to complete several of the missions.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Biological evolution accounts for diversity over long periods of time. (LS4.A, LS4.D)
- 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.
- The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.
- Similarities among existing organisms provide evidence for evolution. (LS4.A)
- Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)
- Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (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)
- Evolution results from genetic drift acting upon genetic variation within a population.
- Speciation is the splitting of one ancestral lineage into two or more descendent lineages.
- Our understanding of life through time is based upon multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use the similarity of DNA nucleotide sequences to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.
- Scientists use the geographic distribution of fossils and living things to learn about the history of life.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.
- There is variation within a population. (LS3.B)
- Speciation is often the result of geographic isolation.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.
- Evolution occurs through multiple mechanisms.