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The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection in Humans

14 minutes 3 seconds

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Still image from The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection in Humans

In some parts of the world, there is an intimate connection between the infectious parasitic disease "malaria" and the genetic disease "sickle-cell anemia." A keenly observant young man named Tony Allison, working in East Africa in the 1950s, first noticed the connection and assembled the pieces of the puzzle. His story stands as the first and one of the best understood examples of natural selection, where the selective agent, adaptive mutation, and molecule involved are known--and this is in humans to boot. The protection against malaria by the sickle-cell mutation shows how evolution does not necessarily result in the best solution imaginable but proceeds by whatever means are available.

Media Details

Runtime: 14 minutes 3 seconds

Graphic of a strand of DNA with the C-G-A-T protein sequences. Caption: A mutation is a change in the chemical letters
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 1
10 minutes 24 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Close up of a small, spiny, translucent fish. Caption: The fish absorb enough oxygen from the sea
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 2
13 minutes 10 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Magnified view of red, spherical objects. Caption: Then he tested for the sickle cell character.
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 3
14 minutes 3 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Two almost identical fish. One is larger and has an extra fin on the bottom of its body. Below each fish is a strand of DNA with the same section highlighted. Caption: changes in form are ultimately due to changes in genes.
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 4
15 minutes 26 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
People wrapped in cloth holding walking sticks, herding a large herd of bovine. Caption: people started domesticating animals for food,
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 5
14 minutes 56 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
 A large bird flying through the sky. Spanish captions.
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 6
10 minutes 29 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Blood cells flowing through a vein. Spanish captions.
The Making Of The Fittest
Episode 7
14 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12