Evolution: Generations of an allele

Dive into the evolution of whales! Follow the path of a gene from a rare mutation to being stuck in a population through natural disasters and competition.

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  • Description
  • Features

This short, targeted simulation is adapted from the full-length “Evolution” simulation.

Explore the evolution of the whale! In this simulation, you will learn about evolution and population genetics by investigating the population of small wolf-like creatures on a virtual island. How did evolution help a small, four-legged land dweller, called the Pakicetus to become the blue whale, the largest animal to ever swim the oceans?

The island

Start with two Pakicetus on your virtual island. Watch as the population size grows exponentially and observe the genetics of the population over time. Discover what resources limit the island's population size. Use the Hardy-Weinberg principle to predict the allelic frequency in the population over multiple generations. Will the island remain a safe haven for the Pakicetus?

Population genetics

Explore the mystery of how the Pakicetus evolved into the large blue whale. A single mutation caused some of the Pakicetus to struggle to catch prey on land and led them to search for food on beaches in order to survive. Observe the new allele that remains at low levels in the population of the Pakicetus over multiple generations. Will this new allele prove useful for future generations?

Disaster strikes the island

The climate on the island changes dramatically as a drought strikes the island, and the Pakicetus are pushed from the land to the beaches. Watch as the population of Pakicetus with the new allele increases and the hunting style of the Pakicetus changes from land to water to fit this new world. How will further sudden disasters affect the allelic frequencies as the Pakicetus population?

Get started now

Dive into the evolution of whales! Follow the path of a gene from a rare mutation to being stuck in a population through natural disasters and competition.

Techniques in lab
Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, Genetic drift
Learning objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to...

  • Learn how populations evolve by adapting to their environment
  • Understand the basic mechanisms of evolution
  • Understand the evidences of evolution as the foundation of biology
  • Deal with common misconceptions about the theory of evolution
Simulation features

Length: 15
Accessibility mode: Available
Languages: English (United States)

NGSS

High level content, may support HS-LS4-3

IB

Biology Topic 5: Evolution and biodiversity

AP

Biology 7.2 Natural Selection