Cladograms and Evolution Kit
Students propose evolutionary relationships using 2 lines of evidence. First, students examine the external anatomical characteristics of 5 different preserved specimens. Based on morphological similarities, they create a cladogram. Students are then provided data about differences in the sequence of amino acids in a protein that the animals share. The students construct an additional cladogram based on this molecular information. Considering both morphological characteristics and genetic information, students propose evolutionary relationships among the animals and try to explain any discrepancies between their 2 cladograms. In this lab, students communicate their ideas using multiple models, including concentric circle diagrams, cladograms, graphs, and mathematical comparisons. The question that drives students’ investigations is, “How can we evaluate and communicate evidence of evolutionary relationships among a group of organisms?”
Teacher prep, 30 minutes. Pre-lab, investigations, and assessment, approximately 4 class periods. Note: Two extra class periods are needed if your class opts for dissection and analysis in investigation 1.
Includes 1-year access to digital resources that support 3-dimensional instruction for NGSS. Digital resources may include a teacher manual and student guide, pre-lab activities and setup videos, phenomenon videos, simulations, and post-lab analysis and assessments.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
Science and Engineering Practices
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
- Use external features of animals as evidence to argue evolutionary relationships.
- Analyze gene sequences to determine evolutionary relationships.
- Integrate anatomical and biochemical evidence to create and revise phylogenetic trees, or cladograms, to describe relationships based on biological evolution and common ancestry.
Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills
Students should have basic familiarity with the central dogma of biology (DNA → RNA → protein), including the possible effects of DNA mutations on protein structure and function. They should be familiar with the concept of biological evolution by natural selection. If performing the optional dissection, students should be well versed in safe dissecting procedures and familiar with the proper use of dissecting tools.
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