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The Making of the Fittest: Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture

14 minutes 56 seconds

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Still image from The Making of the Fittest: Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture

Human babies drink milk; it's the food especially provided for them by their mothers. Various cultures have also added the milk of other mammals to their diet, and adults think nothing of downing a glass of cows' milk. But worldwide, only a third of adults can actually digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Human geneticist Spencer Wells tracks down the genetic changes associated with the ability to digest lactose as adults. Combining genetics, chemistry, and anthropology, this story provides a compelling example of the co-evolution of human genes and human culture.

Media Details

Runtime: 14 minutes 56 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