The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation

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Nachman, Michael
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Publication date: 2012
Publisher: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Nachman, M. (2012). The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation | HHMI’s BioInteractive. Retrieved June 14, 2015.

Flesch–Kincaid N/A but high school level

Description

This fun film shows that not only is evolution happening right now, everywhere around us, but adaptive changes can occur in a population with remarkable speed. For example, this speed is essential if you’re a desert pocket mouse living in an environment where a volcanic eruption can reverse selective pressure in nearly an instant (as shown in the film). The film features Dr. Michael Nachman, whose work in the field and in the lab has quantified the selective pressure of predators and identified the genes involved in adaptation. In a complete story, from ecosystem to molecules, pocket mice show us how random changes in the genome can take many paths to the same adaptation—a colored coat that hides them from predators.

Readability

The is a film, so readability isn’t directly related, but as far as its “understandability,” I would say it is great for high school students of all levels. It is visually interesting and explains evolution well using the real life example of the pocket mouse. The scientists in the film do not try to use large words in order to sound competent, but instead talk to the viewers as intelligent individuals while avoiding hard vocabulary.

Use in Class

At only 10.5 minutes long, this short film would be a fantastic break from reading texts or books alike. I would use this film after the class has at least read the basic tenants of evolution. Perhaps it would be good to cap the evolution section of our textbook with this film, although I like its accessibility, so perhaps midway through would be best.

Unit Focus

Biology

Submitted by Luke Evancoe

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