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Lesson summary for:
Evo in the news: Evolution down under

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Overview:
This news brief, from September of 2008, describes an unusual contagious cancer currently decimating Tasmanian devil populations. Learn about the fascinating interplay between the evolution of the devils and the evolution of the disease.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
20 minutes

Teaching tips:
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topic of the animal immune system (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). This resource highlights the immune system’s ability to recognize self vs. non-self cells. This article includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Geological change and biological evolution are linked.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • Natural selection and genetic drift act on the variation that exists in a population.

  • Variation of a character within a population may be discrete or continuous.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations.

Teacher background:

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