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086

genetics

OLogy Series
biology
card
086

genetics

OLogy Series
biology

Genetics is the study of how traits are passed from one generation to another. Traits such as eye color and nose shape are transferred from parents to their kids through genes. Our genes carry information that affects our health, our appearance, and even our personality.

In the Days Before Genetics
Long ago, before people understood genetics, mothers-to-be were given odd advice. In ancient Greece, women were told that if they wanted attractive children, they should stare at beautiful objects while they were pregnant. In France during the 1800s, expectant mothers were told they could improve their children's looks by gazing at gorgeous paintings and thinking beautiful thoughts. Based on scientific evidence, we know that these ideas are just myths. We also now know that mothers-to-be can improve the health of their babies by eating well and getting exercise during pregnancy. Thinking healthy thoughts is not enough.

Which of the following is controlled entirely by genes?

how well you play basketball

what kind of music you like

whether or not your earlobes are attached to your face

Are you right?

Correct!

The shape of your earlobes is determined by your genes. If you have genes that make you tall, they might give you an advantage on the court, but there's no gene for being good at shootin' hoops.

Thousands of years ago, farmers used genetics to improve their crops and animals.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Even though the science of genetics wasn't fully understood in prehistoric times, farmers knew how to use breeding to make heartier crops and stronger animals.

How tall you are depends entirely on your parents' genes.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Genes affect your height, but they aren't the whole story. Your diet also plays an important role.

genetics
It means: the science of how genes are passed from generation to generation
Discovered: started in the mid-1800s with Gregor Mendel's discoveries, but long ago people knew that our traits come from our parents
Significance: The modern study of genetics has helped us understand how we're related to other animals and how we fit into the evolution of life on Earth.

Image credits: Kelvin Chan.