What Causes Different Fur Colors?
In this inquiry-based activity, students investigate the phenomenon of fur colors in rock pocket mice to connect genotypes to phenotypes and molecular genetics to evolution.
This activity is based on content covered in the short film The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation. Students observe, ask questions, and make predictions about rock pocket mice with different fur colors in different environments. They then make predictions about what causes those differences. By comparing DNA and amino acid sequences, students identify the locations and types of variations responsible for fur color differences.
Student Learning Targets
- Make observations about a phenomenon and generate questions about it.
- Based on the sequence of the coding strand of DNA, determine the sequence of the template strand, the mRNA, and the protein.
- Identify differences among DNA sequences and among amino acid sequences.
- Explain the relationship between variations in a DNA sequence and variations in phenotype.
- Explain the relationship between natural selection and the frequency of genetic and phenotypic variations in a population.
amino acid, base pairing, codon, melanin, melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), mRNA, transcription, translation, 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 100, 9 (2003): 5268–5273. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0431157100.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS1-1, HS-LS4-4, HS-LS4-5
AP Biology 2019
IST-1.N, IST-1.O, IST-4.A, IST-4.B, EVO-1.D, EVO-1.G; SP1, SP6
IB Biology 2016
AP Environmental Science 2020
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H; SP5
IB Environmental Systems and Societies 2017
Common Core 2010
Vision and Change 2009
CC1, CC3; DP1