Biology - Evolution (AQA Syllabus A)

GCSE Science looks in depth at evolution. There are several aspects to this, such as competition and variation. This is the first of two quizzes on the topic and it looks in particular at Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and the process of natural selection.

Particular genes or accidental changes in the genes of plants or animals may give them characteristics which enable them to survive better. Over time this may result in entirely new species. There are different theories of evolution but Charles Darwin’s theory is the most widely accepted. His theory is based on natural selection or "survival of the fittest".

Variation of individuals of a species occurs naturally - variation makes you different from everyone else. If variation gives an animal an advantage in the wild, it is likely to live longer and have more offspring. It is likely that the variation is passed on to the offspring, making them more successful. Bad variations will mean that the individual is less successful and could even die so the individuals who are best adapted to the environment will survive. So as this carries on over a period of millions of years, animals and plants will slowly evolve through the process of natural selection.

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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck suggested that evolution happened because of use and disuse. A characteristic which is used more by an organism becomes bigger and stronger, and one that is not used eventually disappears. Any feature of an organism that is improved through use is passed to its offspring. An example of this is the neck of a giraffe. He thought that early giraffes had short necks and as they used them to reach as high as possible they stretched. He thought that this stretched neck would then be inherited by the next generation of giraffes and so on.

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  1. Which of the following is true?
    Variation is carried by the genes and is therfore inherited. Environmental variation occurs after birth and is not recorded on the genes so cannot be passed from parent to offspring
  2. Darwin's theory was not widely accepted when he published it in 1859. Which one of the following is not a reason why scientists at the time rejected it?
    Darwin was ridiculed by the press and some of the leading scientists of the time as they did not like the idea that they were descended from the apes
  3. Why did Lamarck's theory of evolution fall out of favour?
    According to Lamarck's theory, evolution creates more and more complexity therefore simple life like bacteria and amoeba should not exist
  4. Which one of the following provides strong evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution?
    Human fossils from 7 million years ago have been found. Early humans are called 'hominids' and were smaller than modern humans, with much smaller brains but they walked upright on two legs
  5. Which organisms are most likely to survive long enough to reproduce?
    Well adapted individuals survive longer and will have more offspring
  6. What is the timescale needed for evolution according to Darwin's theory?
    Darwin believed that evolution took place very slowly in complex plants and animals. It is possible to see evolution happening over much shorter time periods when you look at simple organisms like bacteria
  7. According to Darwin, new species evolve by which process?
    Negative characteristics that are passed on to offspring gradually disappear from the gene pool as the organisms that carry them do not survive long enough to have many offspring
  8. Why is the evolutionary record of the horse so well documented?
    This question is testing whether or not you understand that one of the strong arguments for Darwin's theory is that evolution can be seen by looking at fossils
  9. Which of the following is an example of rapid evolution caused by mutation?
    Normally, evolution occurs slowly over a period of millions of years. Most antibiotic resistant bacteria have evolved since the 1950s when antibiotics were first widely used
  10. Before the Industrial Revolution most peppered moths were pale, but there was a mutant form which had dark colouration - the black peppered moth. During the Industrial Revolution, in cities the mutant black peppered moth became more numerous. Which of the following statements could explain why?
    This question is about camouflage. Air pollution from the Industrial Revolution made trees near factories dirty. Factories were built in urban areas so the first two options can be dismissed as size is not related to the colour mutation. Even if you haven't come across peppered moths in your lessons, you should be able to work out that white ones would poorly camouflaged against a dirty tree bark meaning that they are more likely to be spotted and eaten by predators

Author: Kev Woodward

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