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Biology Study Guide


Unit 8: Origins of Life and Evolution

The content in this unit is covered in chapters 15-17 in Biology by Miller and Levine.

1. What four concepts are included in Darwin's theory of natural selection?

1. 2.
3. 4.

2. a) Describe the endosymbiont theory of eukaryotic cells.

b) What organelles provide evidence to support this theory?

3. Scientists have determined that the earliest forms of life on our planet were anaerobic. What does
that mean about the atmosphere of the early Earth?

4. How do sedimentary rocks play an important role in interpreting earth's early history?

5. Put the appearance in the fossil record of the following organisms in order:
1. Complex multicellular organisms
2. Complex single-celled organisms
3. Simple multicelled organisms
4. Simple single-celled organisms

(oldest)____, ____, ____, ____ (newest/youngest)

6. What is the difference between relative and absolute dating?

7. The diagram above shows a series of undisturbed rock strata from eastern North Carolina. A
different species of fish is illustrated in each layer. What can you say about the relative age of these

8. The idea that life can only come from previously existing life is known as _______________.

9. Describe the experiment performed by Louis Pasteur that helped to disprove the concept of
spontaneous generation, or abiogenesis.

10. What two genetic processes allow a species to change over time?

11. Why are species which reproduce sexually more likely to survive changing environmental
conditions than species who reproduce asexually?

12. Some animals have structures with similar origins but different purposes, such as the flipper of a
whale and the wing of a bat. These are called _______________________________ structures.

13. Humans and mice share around 60% of their DNA, while humans and chimpanzees share roughly
98% of their DNA. Which are more closely related?

14. A lizard manages to escape from an owl trying to eat him, but loses his tail in the process. He
survives to reproduce, and even though he lost his tail, his babies all have tails. This is evidence
against Lamarck’s theory of __________________________________________. Explain this theory
in your own words:__________________________________________________________________

15. A greenish-brown insect species and a bright orange insect species live in the same forest. Over a
period of five years, there are more greenish-brown insects in the forest than orange ones. What
concept proposes that the brown insect will have better reproductive success (think about blending in
with the forest)?

16. Two deer populations live on opposite sides of a mountain range that they are unable to cross. This
is an example of ______________________.

17. Two populations of the same species of sparrow have developed different mating behaviors, and
therefore do not reproduce with each other. This is an example of _____________________.

18. Darwin identified thirteen different species of finches in the Galapagos, which he determined had
all descended from a common ancestor. These finches had developed different beak shapes to adapt to
the various food sources on different islands. This is an example of _______________________.

19. A certain species of flower has two varieties – one is white, the other is bright pink – because of
slight genetic differences. Henry and Laura plant 50 of each of these flowers in their garden. Laura
notices that the bees are more likely to pollinate the bright pink flowers, which Henry thinks is because
they are easier for the bees to see. What could they predict for future generations of these flowers?

20. In recent years, doctors have become concerned with bacteria called MRSA, a nearly antibiotic-
resistant “superbug”, which causes staph infections. How does the appearance of these bacteria in
hospitals only recently provide evidence that organisms are still evolving?

Use the phylogenetic tree below to answer questions 21 through 23.

Modified from

21. Which animal is most closely related to humans?

22. What is the most likely explanation for the branching pattern circled above?

23. Which two animals are likely to have the most similarities in their amino acid sequences?

24. Label the three types of selection for polygenic traits described below:

a) a population of rabbits changes over time so that rabbits with darker fur are more numerous than
rabbits with medium-colored fur: __________________________________________________

b) a population of clams changes over time so that medium-sized clams outnumber large or small sized
clams: _________________________________________________________________________

c) a population of butterflies changes over time so that very small and very large ones survive while the
medium-sized ones are eaten by birds: ___________________________________________________