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Lesson summary for:
Teaching the Process of Molecular Phylogeny and Systematics: A Multi-Part Inquiry-Based Exercise


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Students explore molecular data from Homo sapiens and four related primates and develop multiple hypotheses regarding the ancestry of these five species by analyzing DNA sequences, protein sequences, and chromosomal maps.

Nathan Lents


Life Science

1 to 4 class periods or one 3 hour lab session

Teaching tips:
This lesson illustrates many aspects of the process of science; however, in order to make these points apparent to students, they will need to be explicitly discussed during the class discussion periods.

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

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)

  • Scientists often try to generate multiple explanations for what they observe. (P7)

  • Different scientists may interpret the same data in different ways. (P7)

  • Science depends on communication within the scientific community. (P7, P8)

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively. (NOS7)

Teacher background:

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