Genetics & Evolution

The following topic has been broken down into 6 components. Click on the part you wish to learn about in more detail below.

Genetics & CharacteristicsBiological Inheritance
DNA & LifeBiotech & Modification
Theory of EvolutionNatural Selection
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Topic Revision

Vocabulary – make sure you can spell and give the meanings of the following words:

  • allele
  • amino acids
  • characteristic
  • chromosome
  • diploid
  • DNA
  • dominant
  • double helix
  • environment
  • gene
  • genetic modification
  • genotype
  • haploid
  • heterozygous
  • homozygous
  • meiosis
  • mitosis
  • mutagen
  • pedigree
  • phenotype
  • recessive
  • replicate
  • reproduce
  • transgenic
  • Evolution
  • Natural selection
  • Comparative anatomy
  • pentadactyl limb
  • embryology
  • stratigraphy
  • relative dating
  • absolute dating
  • fossil
  • sedimentary rock
  • Charles Darwin
  • Alfred Wallace
  • Lamarck
  • Galapagos
  • Mutation
  • Variation
  • selective pressure
  • Peppered moth
  • antibiotic resistance
  • geographical isolation


  1. Describe the stages involved in the two ways that cells divide (mitosis and meiosis).
  2. Why does there need to be different types of cell division? (What is each for?)
  3. Why is DNA important? Where is it found?
  4. Who discovered the structure of DNA? Did they achieve it on their own? Who made the discoveries that helped them?
  5. Draw a diagram of the structure of DNA, clearly labelling a sugar, a phosphate and a nitrogenous base.
  6. What are the four nitrogenous bases in DNA? Which bases join together?
  7. What is replication? Draw a diagram or flow-chart to show the basic steps in this process.
  8. What are two differences between DNA and RNA?
  9. What are chromosomes? How many do humans have? How are they arranged?
  10. What is the sequence of bases in DNA actually for? What is eventually made (hint: they are made of amino acids) and what do they actually do?
  11. What did Gregor Mendel study? Describe what he found out about how features are passed from parent to offspring using pea plants.
  12. What is a Punnett square? What do we use them for?
  13. What is a mutation in the DNA?
  14. What is a pedigree? Draw the symbols used to represent males, females, an affected male, identical twins and a carrier female.
  15. Define the term biotechnology in your own words. Describe one example of biotechnology (including advantages and disadvantages) that you have studied in class.


  1. What is a fossil? What type of rock are they usually found in?
  2. Describe the conditions under which a fossil forms.
  3. Describe the significance of fossils and the fossil record as evidence to support the theory of evolution.
  4. Describe improvements in technology that have transformed scientific thinking in relation to the evolution of living things.
  5. What is the theory of evolution?
  6. Who contributed to the theory of evolution?
  7. How does a theory such as this gain acceptance in the scientific community? What is needed?
  8. Why can’t we disregard other theories about the evolution of life?
  9. Describe the following types of evidence to support the theory of evolution. Give specific examples. Make a link between present-day organisms and organisms from the past.
    1. Comparative Anatomy – Why are these limbs different and used for different functions?
    1. Comparative Embryology – Why do the embryos appear most similar at the earliest stage of development?
    1. Biochemical Similarities – What are the molecules present in all living things?
    1. Transitional fossils – give examples and relate to common ancestry of present day organisms.
  10. Define natural selection. Who is responsible for introducing natural selection?
  11. Use natural selection as a mechanism to explain the theory of evolution. Give an example of two species not related that are similar in appearance due to the environment in which they live.