The Acetate Animal Hunt
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Carter, Linda DuSable High School
Students should be able to determine which variations (adaptations)
would allow an organism to survive and reproduce in a certain
25 clear acetate discs
25 yellow acetate discs
25 red acetate discs
25 blue acetate discs
Discs should be about 1 cm in diameter.
This activity uses acetate discs of different colors to determine
which variations may help an organism to survive in a given
Use the entire floor area of the classroom as a habitat for a
population of acetate "animals." These "animals" are all of the same
species. The variation in the color of the discs representing the
"animals" is due to different genetic inheritance. The following are
the genotypes for each "animal."
Each individual in the class will act as a predator searching for
food. The prey will be the acetate animals. They will be given 2
minutes to search the area for "food." Collect as many acetate
animals as possible. When the time is up, reassemble and count the
total number of acetate discs found by all members of the class.
Chart your findings for each color disc. List number originally used,
number found, number left on floor,and frequency of genes left.
Students may prepare a bar graph indicating the frequency of color
genes remaining in the acetate population. Determine gene frequency
by dividing the total number of each color organism by the number of
surviving organisms. Then multiply by 100 to find the percentage.
1. Which animals were most difficult to find? Explain.
2. Explain which acetate animals were the most fit?
3. Which were the most poorly adapted? Why?
4. What will eventually happen to genes of the most poorly adapted
5. As far as the predators (you) are concerned, which of you will live
and which of you will die?
6. List several factors that make the predators better adapted for
1. What does it mean for an organism to be adapted to its environment?
2. Explain the concept of "survival of the fittest."
3. Give the students several scenes in which they must determine which
organisms within a population would most likely survive if their
environment was to change. Have them explain why. Example:
Imagine a population of species of giraffe living on an African
plain for hundreds of years. Assume that the variation in this
species is such that neck length ranges from short to very long.
Most individuals have average-length necks, but some have short
necks and some have very long necks. Assuming that this population
of giraffes has been at genetic equilibrium for centuries, what
would happen if another species, such as leaf-eating deer, entered
the area? Would the species of giraffes change?
NOTE: This paper has been modified from the original by the SMILE Staff.