The Making of the Fittest: Evolving Switches, Evolving Bodies
This film explores how mutations in gene regulatory regions have resulted in major changes in the anatomy of freshwater populations of stickleback fish.
Many freshwater populations of sticklebacks lack the long spines that project from the pelvis of their marine relatives. These spines are important in the ocean for fending off large predators, so why were they lost in freshwater populations? The film tells the story of how David Kingsley, Michael Bell, and other scientists have identified key genes and genetic switches responsible for the evolution of this remarkable body transformation. Scientists have even documented similar evolutionary changes that occurred in the past, by studying a remarkable fossil record from the site of what was an ancient lake ten million years ago.
The “Abbreviated Film Guide” provides a short summary of the film, along with key concepts and connections to curriculum standards.
An audio descriptive version of the film is available via our media player.
adaptation, enhancer, gene switch, gene regulation, Pitx1, transcription factor
Bell, M. A. “Palaeobiology and evolution of threespine stickleback.” In The Evolutionary Biology of the Threespine Stickleback, edited by Michael A. Bell and Susan A. Foster, 438–471. Oxford University Press, 1994.
Shapiro, Michael D., Melissa E. Marks, Catherine L. Peichel, Benjamin K. Blackman, Kirsten S. Nereng, Bjarni Jónsson, Dolph Schluter, and David M, Kingsley. “Genetics and developmental basis of evolutionary pelvic reduction in threespine sticklebacks.” Nature 428, 6984 (2004): 717–723. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02415.
HS-LS1.A, HS-LS3.A, HS-LS3.B
IST-1, IST-2, EVO-1
2.7, 7.1, 7.2
Topic(s): 2.6, 2.7