The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection in Humans
This film explores the evolutionary connection between an infectious disease, malaria, and a genetic condition, sickle cell anemia.
Tony Allison first noticed a connection between malaria and the sickle cell trait while working in East Africa in the 1950s. The story of his discovery stands as one of the best understood examples of natural selection in humans in which the selective agent, adaptive mutation, and molecule involved are all known. The protection against malaria provided by the sickle cell mutation demonstrates how evolution does not necessarily result in optimal solutions for the species but proceeds in response to selective pressures by utilizing what variation is available.
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, Africa, allele, balancing selection, hemoglobin, heterozygote advantage, malaria, mutation, sickle cell
Allison, Anthony C. “The Discovery of Resistance to Malaria of Sickle-Cell Heterozygotes.” Mini-Series: Significant Contributions to Biological Chemistry over the Past 125 Years. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 30, no. 5 (2002): 279‒287.
HS-LS1.A, HS-LS3.A, HS-LS3.B, HS-LS4.C
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 3.A.3, 3.C.1
4.1, 4.3, 5.4, D.2