The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation
This film describes natural selection and adaptation in populations of rock pocket mice living in the American Southwest.
Mice living on light-colored sand tend to have light-colored coats, while mice living on patches of dark-colored rock have mostly dark-colored coats. Dr. Michael Nachman studies the evolutionary processes that led to these marked differences in rock pocket mouse populations. He has quantified the selective pressure imposed by predators and identified the genes involved in the adaptations of mouse populations to their substrates. Dr. Nachman’s work also demonstrates that similar selective pressures can drive evolution toward similar phenotypic adaptations but using very different genetic paths.
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.
camouflage, melanin, melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), mutation, rock pocket mouse, selective pressure, trait, variation
Nachman, Michael W., Hopi E. Hoekstra, and Susan L. D’Agostino. “The Genetic Basis of Adaptive Melanism in Pocket Mice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100, no. 9 (April 29, 2003): 5268–5273.
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