Lab 3: Follow the instructions and complete the assignment below. Submit your answers through the Lab 3 Assignment on Blackboard.

Lab 3 1

Lab 3: Evolution by Natural Selection

In this lab, you will explore two different simulations that explain how evolution by natural selection works, both on short and long term scales. For each simulation, you’ll have a series of questions to answer at the end. As for previous labs, you will want to take good notes along the way so that you can answer the questions at the end more easily. A. Go to the Darwin survival game at the following link:

[the game does not work well on my Firefox browser, but works well in all other browsers I’ve tried, such as Chrome or Internet Explorer]

– Press the “Natural Selection” tab and complete the quick simulation – Play the “Survival Game”. I suggest playing it 3-5 times to get a good idea of how it

works; take notes along the way, keeping track of your different organisms, which one was most successful and why, which one lived the longest, whether you won (and if not, how long did you last).

– Click on “Darwin’s Bio” tab and read the text – Take the quiz; keep track of the questions, esp. if you find some of them difficult,

and keep track of what it tells you at the end of the quiz.

When you are finished, answer the following questions about this activity.

1. Are all organisms within a species typically identical? Why or why not? Justify your answer using your notes from the “Natural Selection” tab and from the game you played.

2. What happens to traits that are beneficial for an organism? To traits that are detrimental to the organism? Justify your answers using your notes from the game you played. Where do these traits come from?

3. Did you win any of the rounds of the game you played? If not, what was your oldest organism? What did it look like, and why was it more successful than others?

4. Describe the process happening during the game. Are the different organisms different species, or different variants within a species? Why does this matter? Justify your answer.

5. Based on your experience in playing this game, do you think there have been more extinctions of species than successes of various species? Explain.

Lab 3: Follow the instructions and complete the assignment below. Submit your answers through the Lab 3 Assignment on Blackboard.

Lab 3 2

6. What was your score on the quiz, and what did it tell you once you completed it? Did you find some specific questions harder? If so, which ones were they?

7. What are the benefits of using simulations like the one you played to learn natural selection? Discuss your answer briefly. Did you enjoy this simulation (including the game and the quiz), and did it help you learn the material? Justify your answer.

B. Discovering relationships between species

The website below is an interactive activity that lets you explore the relationship between organisms on Earth by building phylogenies, both with morphological traits and DNA.

– Go to the website:, and click on PLAY GAME. You do not have to sign in with an account, you can just play the game as a guest. The website is free.

– Once you enter the game, you’ll see that the screen contains missions you’ll have to

complete, along with a short video. Start by watching the video; remember to take notes about what you learn in the video clip

– Missions have to completed in order; in other words, mission 2 will only open once you’ve completed mission 1. Each mission has 3 “games” to complete, along with a short video.

– Complete all missions, taking notes along the way for each video clip, and about things that are you learning. Take a screen shot of your screen at the end of the 6th mission as evidence that you completed them all 

Once you’re done with all missions, answer the following questions: 8. According to the first video you watched on the website (“Evolution 101”), what is the purpose of the Tree of Life? Explain your answer 9. In mission 1, one of the pop-up questions asks whether an animal or a plant is more closely related to a fungus. What is the correct answer, using the information you learned in mission 1, and why is the answer likely surprising to many people? Another pop-up question was whether a banana is more closely related to a lemon or an onion. What is the correct answer, using the information you learned in mission 1, and why is the answer likely surprising to many people? 10. When two groups of organisms independently evolve similar adaptations, it’s called convergent evolution. Sharks and whales both have streamlined bodies and tail flukes. How do we know that these similarities are because of convergent evolution? Describe your reasoning (Hint: this comes from material in Mission 2)

Lab 3: Follow the instructions and complete the assignment below. Submit your answers through the Lab 3 Assignment on Blackboard.

Lab 3 3

11. When you compare the DNA of two closely related organisms, would you expect their DNA to be more similar or less similar than the DNA of two distantly related organisms? Explain your answer. 12. Fossils almost never contain DNA. So how can we know how closely or distantly related fossil organisms are to living organisms? Justify your answer using information you learned in Mission 3. 13. Which do you consider more convincing evidence, DNA or physical features? Why? Justify your answer using material you learned in this lab. 14. What do you think the narrator means when he says, “The host and the parasite are always in this really intimate dance together”, in the video from Mission 5? 15. Based on the information you learned in mission 5, how do scientists think that SIV has jumped hosts to humans? Based on your phylogenetic tree, how many times—at a minimum— do you infer that an HIV virus has jumped hosts to humans? Explain your answer. 16. A common misconception is that humans evolved from chimpanzees. It can therefore be confusing to some people that there are still chimpanzees. How could you use a tree diagram like the one you generated in this level to explain the correct relationship between living chimps and living humans? 17. What is the most surprising thing you have learned while playing through these missions? What is one thing that you’d like to learn more about? Did you enjoy the first simulation (Darwin’s survival game) or this simulation (NOVA phylogenies) more? Justify your answer. Now that you completed this lab, return to Blackboard and select Lab 3 Submission. You will see that Blackboard randomly selected questions for you to answer from the pool of all 17 questions. Copy-paste your answers for the 5 questions that Blackboard selected into Blackboard. Note that as this is a random selection, sometimes the questions will all be next to each other, sometimes they will be the hard ones, sometimes the easy ones, sometimes a true mix, and each student gets a slightly different selection. Each question is worth 2 points, for a total of 10 points for the lab

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