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Analyse The Evidence For Evolution

In this worksheet, students will analyse the modern evidence and fossil discoveries that scientists use as evidence for evolution and update systems of classification.

'Analyse The Evidence For Evolution' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

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Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Evidence For Evolution

 

 

For centuries, there’s been debate regarding the development of life, all thanks to Darwin.

 

He published ideas stating EVOLUTION was due to NATURAL SELECTION, explaining that different individuals of the same species have variations of the same characteristic, e.g. height, due to sexual reproduction.

 

The more advantageous versions thrive in the environment and survive to breed, passing on these positive genetic differences down generations.

 

An example that supports Darwin’s theories is ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE in bacterial evolution.

 

 

Bacteria reproduce fast and the constant turn over of DNA leads to MUTATIONS and new strains of bacteria, some of which can’t be killed by certain antibiotics like penicillin.

 

This is a demonstration of natural selection: advantageous mutations occur and help the bacteria survive by resisting the deadly antibiotic, going onto multiply and pass on these variations.

 

 

Evidence for Human Evolution

 

 

Human evolution was also proposed by Darwin to be the result of natural selection, believing all organisms ultimately originate from simpler beings.

 

We prove this using fossil discovery, which are preserved imprints or remains of organisms that were alive millions of years ago. Archaeologists have used these fossil records to develop evidence for human evolution, primarily with 2 key discoveries in the lovely African ladies LUCY and ARID.

 

Arid is our older lady, being a female fossilised human-like skeleton from 4.4 million years ago, her bones showing her ability to walk despite very long arms and toes. Her feet actually help suggest that humans and chimpanzees didn’t evolve together. 

 

Lucy is slightly younger at 3.2 million years old and is another African fossilised skeleton that seems human-like with suggestions of an upright posture and foot bones similar to modern-day humans.

 

Also, more evidence was provided by the Leakeys, a scientist couple who discovered fossils as old as 1.6 million years, heavily resembling modern-day humans even more so than Arid and Lucy.

 

 

Another sign that we have evolved over time is the discovery of STONE TOOLS from 2.5 million-year-old flint hand axes to 10,000 year old arrowheads.

 

However, all dates are estimates as scientists rely on dating artefacts from the environment they were found in- basically, the tool is considered as old as the rock around it!

 

More modern techniques like radiocarbon dating can also be performed to analyse elements in the tool like the amounts of iron or potassium for more advanced analysis.

 

 

From 5 Kingdoms to 3 Domains Using Genetic Analysis

To organise the information gathered from fossils and living organisms, classification systems were designed to categorise beings based on their characteristics.

 

An early model was the 7 group LINNAEAN SYSTEM designed by Carl Linneaus, placing organisms in gradually smaller and more specific groups: 1. 5 Main Kingdoms, 2. Phylum, 3. Class, 4. Order, 5. Family, 6. Genus, 7. Species.  

 

However, while the Linnaean system relied on human judgment, scientific advances have updated classification by allowing scientists to document more details that they can use to compare organisms, even down to the genetic level!

 

GENETIC ANALYSIS highlights DNA base sequences we can use to contrast the relations between beings. For example, the realisation that coding and non-coding DNA were present in varying amounts in different organisms was used by Carl Woese to propose the THREE-DOMAIN SYSTEM including Eukaryotes, Bacteria and Archaea.  

Darwin proposed evolution to argue against the undisputed religious explanation for the development of life at the time, but even now there are some modern occurrences that help provide evidence for his theory.

Which of these would be considered fossils?

Solidified Footprints

Shell Imprints in rock

Bones and Teeth

A Mosquito Frozen in Ice

What 3 discoveries have helped prove the theory of human evolution?

Solidified Footprints

Shell Imprints in rock

Bones and Teeth

A Mosquito Frozen in Ice

If sediment on a discovered arrowhead is 3 million years old, do scientists consider the tool the same age or older?

Solidified Footprints

Shell Imprints in rock

Bones and Teeth

A Mosquito Frozen in Ice

Which scientist(s) helped to provide fossil evidence to support human evolution?

Darwin

Mary and Louis Leakey

Carl Woese

Carl Linneaus

What tool can be used for more advanced fossil analysis, including finding out their element compositions?

With modern scientific advances, the classification of organisms has gone from a...

Carl Linnaeus developed a 7 group classification system in the 1700's to organise information collected about living beings.

Column A

Column B

1. Largest Group
Genus
2.
Class
3.
Order
4.
Kingdom
5.
Species
6.
Phylum
7. Smallest Group
Family

What data did Carl Woese use when he designed the Three- Domain System? 

Genetic analysis can be used to contrast the relations between beings using DNA, improving classification methods.

 

Are the following statements true or false?

  • Question 1

Darwin proposed evolution to argue against the undisputed religious explanation for the development of life at the time, but even now there are some modern occurrences that help provide evidence for his theory.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Antibiotic resistance is an example of natural selection, as a mutation has clearly led to the evolution of bacteria into strains that our antibiotics can't kill, showing first hand the advantage bacteria have gained but also the harm this proposes for humans if we get sick
  • Question 2

Which of these would be considered fossils?

CORRECT ANSWER
Solidified Footprints
Shell Imprints in rock
Bones and Teeth
A Mosquito Frozen in Ice
EDDIE SAYS
ALL TRUE! Fossils are preserved remanents of creatures that lived millions of years ago. These can be hard like bones and teeth which are slowly replaced with minerals over time. They can also be soft tissues that have been encased in a protective barrier that stopped them decaying, like insects in amber, tar or ice! Finally, footprints or trails of beings or imprinted patterns of decayed shells are all also considered fossils!
  • Question 3

What 3 discoveries have helped prove the theory of human evolution?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Arid and Lucy are the two African human-like fossilised skeletons that have allowed scientists to provide evidence supporting Darwin's theory of evolution. They demonstrate how similar we are to our ancestors but also what features we've lost or gained through natural selection, for example, Lucy had a smaller skull than us and Arid had very long arms and toes! The discovery of stone tools also shows the advancement of cognition and resourcefulness as time went on, so this is also an important demonstration of human evolution.
  • Question 4

If sediment on a discovered arrowhead is 3 million years old, do scientists consider the tool the same age or older?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Dating of artefacts is estimated BASED ON THE ENVIRONMENT IT'S FOUND IN! So the answer is the same because if the rock layers on the arrowhead are 3 million years old, we know the tool has existed for at least 3 million years, anything else can't be supported.
  • Question 5

Which scientist(s) helped to provide fossil evidence to support human evolution?

CORRECT ANSWER
Mary and Louis Leakey
EDDIE SAYS
Lots of scientists means lots of opportunity for confusion but hopefully this question has helped clarify who did what! Darwin created the theory of evolution, Woese and Linnaeus contributed to classification systems, and so the remaining Leakeys are the ones responsible for discovering fossils which show very close resemblance to modern-day humans.
  • Question 6

What tool can be used for more advanced fossil analysis, including finding out their element compositions?

CORRECT ANSWER
RADIOACTIVE DATING
EDDIE SAYS
If you want to find out what elements make up your discovery, for example, how much of the primitive iron axe is iron, radioactive dating will tell you the amounts present.
  • Question 7

With modern scientific advances, the classification of organisms has gone from a...

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The Linnaean system is a 7 group system, the largest and first group being the Kingdom an organism belongs to like we belong to the animal kingdom. There are 5 Kingdoms to know about: Plant, Animal, Protists, Prokaryotes and Fungi. However Linnaeus relied on the characteristics he could see to classify beings, so when scientific advances were made, Carl Woese proposed a THREE Domain System instead, using more detailed data from microscopes and examining DNA.
  • Question 8

Carl Linnaeus developed a 7 group classification system in the 1700's to organise information collected about living beings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

1. Largest Group
Kingdom
2.
Phylum
3.
Class
4.
Order
5.
Family
6.
Genus
7. Smallest Group
Species
EDDIE SAYS
In summary, the Linnaean system separates beings into one of 5 kingdoms, then phylum, class, order, family, genus and finally the smallest/most specific group called species, in which the organisms are the most closely related.
  • Question 9

What data did Carl Woese use when he designed the Three- Domain System? 

CORRECT ANSWER
GENETIC ANALYSIS
EDDIE SAYS
Looking at the genetic structure of organisms was one thing Linneaus couldn't do because he didn't have the technology available, but Woese did, leading to the Thre Domain System of classification.
  • Question 10

Genetic analysis can be used to contrast the relations between beings using DNA, improving classification methods.

 

Are the following statements true or false?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with this question? Quite dense information but important to appreciate. Genetic analysis shows use the ordering of the bases A, C, T, and G in an organism's genome. This section of DNA can be compared to another organism's to see if they have the same base sequence, and the more bases that are different, the less closely related the beings are! Therefore coding and non-coding DNA are NOT equally present in different organisms otherwise they wouldn't be different! Some organisms only have DNA that codes for proteins with no non-coding DNA to regulate their gene expression. I hope it's clear now that Woese proposed a THREE domain system not seven, but he did use genetic analysis to decide on the domains Bacteria, Archaea and Eukaryotes. Well done on making it through this activity!
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