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Lesson summary for:
Similarities and differences: Understanding homology and analogy


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This interactive investigation explains what homologies and analogies are, how to recognize them, and how they evolve.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

30 minutes

Teaching tips:
This tutorial provides many interactive features and does an excellent job of explaining homologies and analogies. You may want to have your class explore the resources Examples of Analogy and Examples of Homology available in the resource database at the main Understanding Evolution Website, evolution.berkeley.edu. There is also a version of this tutorial that is appropriate for grades 6-8.

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)

  • Through billions of years of evolution, life forms have continued to diversify in a branching pattern, from single-celled ancestors to the diversity of life on Earth today.

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit. (LS4.C)

  • Features sometimes acquire new functions through natural selection.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Similarities among existing organisms provide evidence for evolution. (LS4.A)

  • Anatomical similarities of living things reflect common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Complex structures may be produced incrementally by the accumulation of smaller useful mutations.

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

  • Scientists use anatomical evidence to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)

  • Scientists use developmental evidence to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)

  • Not all similar traits are homologous; some are the result of convergent evolution.

Teacher background:

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