Unit 6: Evolution

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Content Standard(s):
Students will understand that…
· Change in the genetic make-up of a population over time is evolution.
· Organisms are linked by lines of descent from common ancestry.
· Life continues to evolve within a changing environment.
· The origin of living systems is explained by natural processes.

Essential Question(s):
1. What is evolution?
2. What links all organisms together?
3. What is the mechanism of evolution?
4. How can the origin of life be explained?

  1. Natural selection is a major mechanism of evolution
  2. Natural selection acts on phenotypic variations in populations.
  3. Evolutionary change is also driven by genetic drift and artificial selection
  4. Biological evolution is supported by evidence from many scientific disciplines
  5. Organisms share many conserved core processes and features that evolved and are widely distributed among organisms today.
  6. A phylogenetic tree or cladogram is a graphical representation (model) of evolutionary history that can be tested.
  7. Non-eukaryotes can transfer genetic information laterally through mechanisms of transformation, transduction and conjugation; most eukaryotes do not transfer information laterally.
  8. Speciation and extinction have occurred throughout Earth’s history.
  9. Speciation may occur when two populations become reproductively isolated from each other.
  10. Populations of organisms continue to evolve.
  11. There are causal models about the origin of life on Earth.
  12. Evidence from many different scientific disciplines supports models of the origin of life

Students will be able to…
1. Convert a data set from a table of numbers reflecting a change in the genetic make-up of a population over time and apply mathematical methods to investigate the cause(s) and effect(s0 of this change
2. Evaluate evidence provided by data/sets/to qualitatively and quantitatively investigate the role of natural selection in evolution.
3. Use data from a real or simulated population, based on graphs or models of types of selection and apply mathematical methods to predict what will happen to the population in the future.
4. Evaluate data-based evidence that describe evolutionary changes in the genetic make-up of a population over time
5. Connect evolutionary changes in a population to a change in the genetic variation or make-up of a population.
6. Use data from mathematical computer models based on the HW equilibrium to analyze genetic drift and artificial selection.
7. Make predictions about the effects of genetic drift on the genetic make-up of a population.
8. Design a plan to collect data from morphology, biochemistry and geology to answer questions regarding how organisms have changed over time.
9. Give evidence to support the claim that biological evidence of evolution is supported by evidence from many scientific disciplines
10. Identify the shared, core life processes in order to provide insights into the history of life on earth.
11. Justify the claim that organisms share many conserved core processes and features that evolved and are widely distributed among organism today.
12. Identify the essential shared characteristics of a group of organisms whose relatedness is described by a phylogenetic tree in order to infer the evolutionary history of the group.
13. Evaluate evidence provided by a data set in a phylogenetic tree to determine evolutionary history and speciation.
14. Explain how lateral gene transfer is a mechanism by which organisms acquire new genetic information.
15. Analyze data that demonstrates speciation
16. Design a plan for collecting data to support the claim that speciation and extinction have occurred throughout life’s history.
17. Describe speciation in an isolated population and connect it to change in gene frequency, change in environment, natural selection and genetic drift
18. Describe a population that has evolved.
19. Describe and evaluate scientific models about the origin of life.
20. Evaluate questions about the scientific theories about the origin of life on earth and describe reasons for revisions of these theories.
21. Justify geological, physical, and chemical data that supports model construction of early Earth conditions and describe experiments that produce monomers and polymers of organic molecules.

Reading Assignments
1. Evidence for Evolution / Theories of Evolution Chapter 22 p. 452-466
2. Evolution of Populations / Hardy Weinberg Chapter 23 p. 468-486
3. Speciation Chapter 24 p. 487 – 504
4. Origin of Life / Macroevolution Chapter 25 p. 507 - 533

Case Studies / Simulation Nova : Evolution of Hominids
Labs: Population Genetics / Hardy Weinberg
Stickleback Evolution

Theory of Evolution / Evidence for Evolution

  • Use the following powerpoint presentation to answer the following questions about evolution.

1. Define evolution. Why is it such an important theory?
2. Discuss early theories of the origin of life.
3. Describe evidence that can be used to support evolution.
4. Describe early theories of evolution.
5. What are the essential points of Darwin's theory? How does this differ from earlier theories?
6. What evidence did Darwin use in developing his theory?
7. Describe the mechanism of natural selection using peppered moths as an example.
8. What factors are necessary in order for evolution to occur?
9. How does punctuated equilibrium differ from gradualism?

  • Use the following articles to answer the question "Are We Still Evolving?"

Mechanism of Evolution

  • Click on the link below to watch the Nova program "What Darwin Never Knew". It provides a great overview of Evolution as well as an excellent link to Molecular Genetics.


  • While watching, answer the following questions:

  • Use this interactive website to study how genes are regulated. Read the background information and answer the discussion questions that accompany the activity.


  • Complete the online virtual lab on Stickleback Evolution. After watching the tutorials, complete the experiments recording all data in your lab notebook. (If your lab notebook is in school, record data on a separate piece of paper which can be stapled into your notebook.)


Population Genetics

Origin of Life

  • Use the following powerpoint and video to answer the following question.

Describe the major events in the origin and evolution of life on earth.

  • Here is the powerpoint on the Origin of Life that we almost finished in class today. The most important thing to get out of it are the major events in evolution.

  • And here is a link to a short video relating evolution of life to a 24 hour day. It kind of puts it all in perspective!


Speciation and Phylogeny

  • How can lice be used to illustrate the importance of reproductive isolation in natural selection and also define an important event in human history?


  • Below are instructions and practice worksheet for constructing cladograms.

  • And if you are still confused about cladograms, watch Mr. Anderson's explanation!

  • Use the following link to construct a cladogram


  • Here's another video explaining cladograms.

  • Complete this case study in phylogeny.

  • Click on the link below to read about mitochondrial DNA and how it can be used to determine evolutionary relationships.


  • Answer the questions below.

  • Ted Talk on Solving Evolutionary Mystery of Neanderthal Man


  • This is an excellent website on all things related to evolution.


  • Use the link below to watch the evoprint tutorial. Then complete the assigned activity using the evoprint comparison.