Complete the table below to outline your essay. Note that the scientific principles for this unit are described at the end of this document.
Question Does the Giant panda share a more recent common ancestor with bears or red pandas?
My Claim Type Here
Use scientific principles (see below) to explain how this evidence supports this claim.
Supporting Evidence #1
Counter-EvidenceChoose one of the pieces of evidence refuting your claim. Type Here
How can you use scientific principles to explain the existence of this evidence?
Scientific Principles for Unit 1
Evolution is the process of biological change by which descendants come to differ from
their ancestors. Changing environmental conditions influence which organisms survive and reproduce, which, in turn, can lead to changes in a species’ traits over multiple generations.
Convergent evolution is seen in how distinct species have evolved similar traits in response to a similar environment or pressure due to natural selection. An example of this is the streamlined, bullet-type shape of sharks and dolphins that allows them to swim fast through the water. However, sharks are fish and dolphins are mammals and they are very far apart on the evolutionary tree.
Divergent evolution shows how species can change slightly over time and separate (diverge) into new forms. For example, in vertebrates like pigs, birds, monkeys and whales, the forelimbs have
the same general sets of bones, but they have been modified over time so the animals can use their forelimbs in very different ways.
The Fossil Record
Fossils are the preserved remains of previously living organisms or their traces, dating from the distant past. The fossil record is not, alas, complete or unbroken: most organisms never fossilize, and even the organisms that do fossilize are rarely found by humans. Fossils provide solid evidence that organisms from the past are not the same as those found today; fossils show a progression of evolution. By comparing the anatomies of both modern and extinct species, paleontologists can make hypotheses about how species evolved over time.
If two or more species share a unique physical feature, such as a complex bone structure or a body plan, they may all have inherited this feature from a common ancestor.
Physical features shared due to evolutionary history (a common ancestor) are said to be homologous. Homologous structures share a similar embryonic origin; analogous organs have a similar function. For example, the bones in the front flipper of a whale are homologous to the bones in the human arm. Sometimes, organisms have structures that are homologous to important structures in other organisms but that have lost their major ancestral function. These structures, which are often reduced in size, are known as vestigial structures.
To make things a little more interesting and complicated, not all physical features that look alike are marks of common ancestry. Instead, some physical similarities are analogous: they evolved independently in different organisms because the organisms lived in similar environments or experienced similar selective pressures.
Biological Molecules (Genetics)
Because mutation occurs at a random but predictable rate, and all organisms share the same biological molecules and genetic coding system, similarities between these molecules can reflect shared evolutionary ancestry. New analysis techniques include analysis of the amino-acid sequence of proteins, differences in the DNA code, and differences in the arrangements of genes in the DNA code. The reasoning behind these techniques is that the fewer the differences in the biological molecules, the less time since the species split from each other and began to evolve into different species.
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