Funky Pigeons

Revealing the biology of inheritance and selection

This module uses Darwin’s well-known observations of the Galápagos finches and his less well-known, but nonetheless crucial, work on domestic pigeons to explore and investigate fundamental ideas in genetics and evolution.

Darwin’s observations led him to believe that species are not fixed but capable of change - a radical idea at the time. His work on artificial selection provided some crucial evidence in support of the power of selection and the heritability of traits.
Darwin’s contribution to fundamental concepts in biology was built on by scientists in the 20th century as the discipline of genetics emerged and continues to inform and inspire scientists now in the molecular age.

This module examines Darwin’s legacy for contemporary science and our current understanding of inheritance mechanisms, natural selection, artificial selection, and speciation. Darwin’s explanations, the work of early geneticists and current biological research are examined using a combination of problem-based enquiry, hands-on activities and contemporary case study.

Resources

Teachers Pack

Pack containing specification links, lesson notes, lesson timings, background information and answers to worksheets and tasks.

Student Worksheets

Pack of worksheets that accompany the module, includes extension activities and an exam-style question.

Lesson 1 - Artificial selection and genetics

Powerpoint presentation to accompany lesson notes in teacher's pack.

Lesson 2 - Genetics

Powerpoint presentation to accompany lesson notes in teacher's pack.

Lesson 3 - Speciation

Powerpoint presentation to accompany lesson notes in teacher's pack.

Darwin Inspired Scientists

Hein Van Grouw, Curator of Birds at the Natural History Museum in Tring, explains his work as a scientist and the legacy of Darwin's studies on birds.