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Biology LibreTexts

1.E: Introduction to Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Exercises)

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  • At-home assignment

    Watch the YouTube video at (Evo-Devo Despacito) and respond to the following two prompts:

    1) What is one thing mentioned in the video you already know about?

    2) What is one thing mentioned in the video you would like to learn more about?

    Discussion and Reading Guide Questions

    The questions below were originally written for students reading Freaks Of Nature by Mark Blumberg and Endless Forms by Sean Carroll. However, the questions in bold are discussion questions that can be answered without these books.

    The "Reading Guide" questions are appropriate for short homework answers and the "Discussion Guide" questions are appropriate for open in-class or online discussion.

    Discussion Questions

    1. How does studying anomalies help us understand how development and evolution work?
    2. How does studying development give us insights into evolutionary biology?
    3. What is the argument for DNA being only a part of the process of development?
    4. Why is it that tinkering with an embryo can sometimes produce an animal that has anomalies that still can function integratively? Does tinkering always result in an integrated adult animal
    5. What animals did you draw as a child? Do you still allow yourself to be awed and inspired by nature? What (if anything) has changed since your childhood?
    6. If you had to go on a nature vacation anywhere, where would you go and why?
    7. Why do we study evo-devo and what are the central questions in the field?
    8. What evolutionary adaptations most interest you?
    9. How do "just so" stories differ from the scientific process?
    10. What are some examples of "building blocks" and modular design in animals?
    11. Do you think that hopeful monsters are a way that evolution happens? Why or why not?
    12. What does it mean that some anomalous characters are "discontinuous" rather than continuous?
    13. What are puntuated equilibria? Are they real or an artifact?
    14. What is the genetic toolkit and what is the toolkit paradox? How can we resolve this paradox?
    15. How does the "gene centric" view of this book differ from Freaks?
    16. Can you think of any exceptions to "Williston's Law"?

    Freaks Reading Guide: Chapter One

    1. What are evolutionary constraints?
    2. What is teratology?
    3. What is Developmental Systems Theory?

    Endless Forms Reading Guide: Intro and Chapter One

    1. How does studying an organism's development help us understand its evolutionary relationships?
    2. What is regulatory DNA?
    3. What is a developmental constraint?
    4. In what ways can evolutionary changes in the development of an organism affect its morphology?
    5. What are Hox genes, and what role do they play in evolution?
    6. What are serial homologs?
    7. What will be covered in the first and second halves of this book? What do you already know about?
    8. Does ontogeny recapitulate phylogeny? Why or why not?