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EVOLUTION - THE BIG IDEA

WORK SHEET
Iguanas are land-living reptiles. The adults feed on a variety of land plants while younger iguanas feed on
insects. They are found in many parts of the world, and share features in common with each other. Charles
Darwin studied the iguanas on the Galapagos islands and found that there were several different types of
iguanas. It appears that Ctenosaura, the black or spiny-tailed iguana of Central America, is ancestral to
Galapagos iguanas. The Galapagos iguanas feed on different types of food and showed differences in their
adaptations to obtaining food. Land iguanas feed on the fruit and pads of Opuntia cactus. It is not unusual to see
them sitting under a cactus, waiting for pieces to fall. They normally use their front feet to scrape the larger
thorns from the pads, but ignore the smaller thorns. Usually they gulp down a cactus fruit in a few swallows. On
some islands where their usual food was scarce, iguanas adapted to feeding on seaweed. The claws of the sea
iguanas are long and sharp by comparison with the land iguana, to enable them to cling to rocks along the shore,
and resist being pulled away by heavy waves. These claws also enable them to cling to their underwater feeding
sites. Darwin used these iguanas as examples of evolution occurring by natural selection.

1 What is meant by natural selection?


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2 Explain how natural selection has given rise to different sorts of iguanas.
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3 Evolution occurs by gradual changes from a common ancestor over long periods. How do the Galpagos
iguanas provide evidence for evolution?
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4 Give two reasons why people at the time when Darwin published On the Origin of Species did not accept the
idea of evolution.
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ii) ________________________________________________________________________________________
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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was a scientist working around the same time as Darwin, and he also developed a theory
of evolution.
Lamarck believed that offspring inherit characteristics that their parents have acquired as a result of changes
that occur as they struggle to survive.
Darwin believed that differences between living organisms occur by chance, and those with the best
characteristics survive to breed, passing on their characteristics.
An observation: Present-day giraffes have much longer necks than fossil forms of giraffes.
5 Describe how:
a) Lamarks theory could be used to explain this increase in neck length?
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b) Darwins theory could be used to explain this increase in neck length?
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TOTAL 12 Marks