5.4 Evolution (Core)

Start with this reading on Evolution and Darwin: https://www.box.net/shared/6dx95t6ma6

Here is the class presentation

Essential Biology 5.4 Evolution (Core)

This page addresses the Core content for Evolution. To go into more depth, have a look at some of the resources for Option D: Evolution.

For a great Lyrical Science intro, watch this video (the lyrics are on subtitles on YouTube):

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Explanations of Evolution:

PBS Evolution has lots of high-quality activities and videos

PhET Lab: Natural Selection simulation (allow Java to run)

BiologyInMotion has a very clear population evolution interactive

John Kyrk has a truly awesome timeline of the evolution of life

Stacks of interactives from PBS NOVA

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Evidence: The Fossil Record

The Exploring Evolution weblab has examples of homologous structures and fossil evidence

Stickelback evolution animations, from HHMI BioInteractive

Fossil Evidence, from NOVA


Evidence: Homologous Structures

The Exploring Evolution weblab has examples of homologous structures and fossil evidence

More about homologous structures from Ridley Evolution

Use of homologous structures in phylogenies, from McGraw Hill

More examples of homologies, from UBC Zoology

Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved, from the Smithsonian

Evidence: Selective Breeding and Domestication

Genetic engineering is only the most recent tool humans have to change the crops we eat and the animals we use. For centuries, humans have effected genetic change – evolution – of other species through selective breeding (selecting for desirable traits and against undesirable traits).

In this interactive from NOVA, compare selective breeding with genetic engineering.

This video clip shows selective breeding in the extreme:

Dog breeds as examples of artifical selection

Find out more about how Darwin struck upon this idea in his work with pigeons


Here is Jerry Coyne giving a talk on ‘Why Evolution is True‘:


Examples: Evolution of Resistance

This is a hugely worrying trend and clear evidence for evolution happening on a timescale that humans can comprehend.

MMHE has a pesticide resistance tutorial

As always, sumanas has a great resource – this time on antibiotic resistance

Here is an interesting read on how popular media might be accelerating spread of infections

Guardian article: “Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?” If this is the future…

Resistance is increasing, yet we’re using more of the few antibiotics that do (just about) work. This is Bad News. 

2011 E. coli outbreak highlights impacts of antibiotic misuse, from the Guardian

Examples: Peppered Moths & Darwin’s Finches

Peppered moth simulations here and here

Evolution of Galapagos finches, from Vision Learning

Explore the Galapagos, from PBS

Pollenpeepers: an origin of species, from PBS

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Darwin resources:

Attenborough on Darwin: The Tree Of Life

Dawkins Darwin Lectures from OU/BBC

And of course, all of Darwin’s works are available online from darwin-online.org

You can also read (and download) Alfred Russell Wallace’s Malay Archipelago here, via Google.


And here’s Dawkins on the evolution of the eye:

Great Reading:

Dawkin’ Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is a well-written and logical presentation of the evidence for evolution, and we have a copy in the library. Otherwise, get on Amazon and buy your own.

There is a very funny review of the book here: John Crace’s digested read podcast.


Summarise each chapter in a series of slides or mind maps, with visual sources.

This comic strip (many pages, click on the link) explains the processes nicely:

Daryl Cunningham's Cartoon Guide to Evolution

Daryl Cunningham’s Cartoon Guide to Evolution

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Lyrical Science: Natural Selection Song by Ross Durand

Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Evolution:

And when Art and Science collide, you get the Big Bang and the Origins of Life, as interpreted by the amazing street art animators, Blu:

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TOK:It’s just a theory

Investigate how conflicting uses of language and areas of knowledge lead to confusion. Jump to TOK lesson.

“But I only believe in micro-evolution, not macro-evolution.” Hmm…

Microevolution leads to macroevolution. Source unknown.

Microevolution leads to macroevolution. Source unknown.

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Demotivational poster from Despair.com

The demotivational poster above sums up natural selection quite nicely. It’s not about survival of the fittest (fastest/strongest/toughest) but survival of the fittest (best fit to the niche). There is a crucial difference, which reflects the change in the meaning of the word fittest from Darwin’s days to now.

OK, this is really finally – Ten Myths About Evolution, and Why They’re Wrong, from Skeptic (pdf)

  1. HI Stephen i think the slides are amazing, but i was wondering where i could find good explanations about the types of selection e.g stabilizing, directional…

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