MS-LS4-6

Why Do Humans Have Different Colored Skin?

Description:  Human skin color can change in response to environmental changes (i.e. getting a sunburn or a suntan). However the root cause of our skin color is genetic and comes from our ancestors. UV radiation causes damage to the DNA in our cells and can lead to various forms of cancer. If your ancestors lived in an area that received large amounts of UV radiation (i.e. closer to the equator) humans evolved darker skin for protection through the process of natural selection. However light is also important since it allows humans to synthesize vitamin D. Therefore if your ancestors lived in an area that receives little light (i.e. near the poles) they evolved lighter skin.

Web Resources: Human Skin Color - Wikipedia, The Biology of Skin Color - HHMI

 
skin color.jpg

Galapagos Finch Evolution

Description:  When Darwin visited the Galapagos Island he collected a number of bird species that he brought back to England. He presented them to ornithologist John Gould thinking they were a variety of birds and he was told that they were all different varieties of finches. This led Darwin to speculate that a population of finches had arrived on the islands and had adapted to different climates through natural selection. However Darwin was never able to observe evolution taking place. Researchers Peter and Rosemary Grant have been observing evolution of Galapagos finches for the last 40 years. One of the most famous studies involved the change in beak depth of medium ground finches during times of drought. Birds that had small beaks were unable to open the dry seeds causing microevolution in the surviving birds.

Web Resources:  Peter and Rosemary Grant Research - Wikipedia, The Beak of the Finch - HHMI

 

Natural Fish Lure | Lampsilis Mussel and Bass

Description:  The Lapsillis mussel must spend part of its life cycle within the smallmouth bass.  It has evolved a lure that resembles a small fish so that it can squirt its young into the mouth of the bass.  The mussel is even able to twitch the lure as the bass approaches. 

Web Resources:  Natural Fish LureAbsurd Creature of the Week - Wired

 
natural lure.jpg