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Lesson summary for:
DNA to Darwin: Woolly mammoths and their relatives

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Overview:
In this case study, the evolutionary relationship of the extinct Woolly mammoth to modern elephants and other species is investigated. Complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences are used for this purpose.

Author/Source:
DNA to Darwin

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
1-2 hours

Teaching tips:
Be sure to test the free software used in this lab before attempting it with students. Some users have reported trouble, while others have had none.

Concepts:
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)

  • Life forms of the past were in some ways very different from living forms of today, but in other ways very similar. (LS4.A)

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

  • Scientists use the similarity of DNA nucleotide sequences to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)

  • Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.

Teacher background:

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