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Lesson summary for:
Evolution connection: Proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids


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This short slide set weaves basic information about carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids into one evolutionary story regarding the evolution of lactose tolerance, which relates to studentsí everyday lives. Save the slide set to your computer to view the explanation and notes that go along with each slide.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

5 minutes

Teaching tips:
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topics of carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). Incorporate these slides immediately after youíve discussed the structure of these biological molecules. You may wish to prime students for this story by using lactose and lactase as examples when discussing carbohydrates and proteins. You may also wish to return to this story as an example when you cover Mendelian genetics. The European version of the lactase persistence gene is inherited as a dominant Mendelian trait.

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

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

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • New heritable traits can result from mutations.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Teacher background:

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