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En Garde! Animal Structures and What They Mean

In most animals, the drive to breed and produce offspring is strong. However, most males live their whole lives without having the chance to breed. ...


A Deadly Passion

This "clicker case" teaches students about the distinction between proximate and ultimate causes of behavior using the fascinating courtship and ma ...


A Decision to Branch Out

In this flipped case study, students use the scientific method to investigate how changes in a few genes have shaped the evolution of maize plant a ...


A Rainbow of Sepia

This flipped case study examines the selective pressures that have affected the evolution of diverse human skin pigmentations. To prepare for the c ...


A Strange Fish Indeed

Through a series of fictionalized diary entries, this case recounts the 1939 discovery by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer (and identification by J.L.B ...


A Tale of Three Lice

This “clicker case” explores the questions of when hominins lost their body hair and began wearing clothing by examining the surprising ...


A Whale of a Tale?

For years whale evolution was characterized by speculation and limited evidence. Evolution critics even focused on whales as a means to criticize e ...


Aliens on Earth?

The discovery of a bacterium capable of substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA was announced with much fanfare in 2010. It was immediately ...


An Antipodal Mystery

The discovery of the platypus had the scientific world in an uproar and kept it tantalized for decades. Here was the strangest animal ever seen. Ho ...


An Infectious Cure

This four-part interrupted case on phage therapy was developed for a freshmen non-majors course in molecular biology. The case begins with a story ...


And Now What, Ms. Ranger?

Intelligent Design continues to be a hot political and educational topic in some parts of the country. This discussion case study uses the dramatic ...


Animals Can Run Away, but Plants Must Stay

In this PowerPoint-driven case study, students consider the many challenges faced by plants and discuss which of these might induce a morphological ...


Antibiotic Resistance

Resistance to antibiotics arose very shortly after these "wonder drugs" were first introduced.  This case study examines resistance to the mos ...


As the Worm Turns

At what point in evolutionary development does a group of individuals become two distinct species? This case addresses that fundamental question by ...


Bioluminescence and 16th-century Caravaggism

This case study looks at the probable connection between bioluminescence and Caravaggio's painting style in the 16th century in order to explore th ...


Blood Suckers! A Case Study on Evolution and Speciation

This directed case study in PowerPoint format focuses on the London Underground Mosquito, Culex molestus, and its potential relationship t ...


Breakfast of Champions

This case study was developed for an upper-level undergraduate evolution course in order to provide an example of natural selection in hominids and ...


Breeding Belyaev's Pets

This clicker case addresses several important concepts related to evolution. First, it explores artificial selection and selective breeding. Charle ...


BSL-4: Authorized Personnel Only

This case study is based on the 2014 Ebola epidemic that spread to multiple highly populated countries in West Africa, making it the largest and mo ...


Butterfly Hunt

This case study uses an interactive activity to illustrate density dependence in ecology classes. We developed a "hunt" using paper butterflies wit ...


Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to Evolutionary Discovery

This interrupted case study focuses on the research of Dr. Beatrice Hahn, who investigates DNA sequences in chimpanzee droppings in order to explor ...


COVID-19

In this directed case study, students assume the role of investigators for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they examine and ...


Crazy About Cryptids! An Ecological Hunt for Nessie and Other Legendary Creatures

Who wouldn't want to go in search of a creature like Bigfoot, Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster?  Using the science of ecology, students do exact ...


Cross-Dressing Salmon

This "clicker case" about female mimicry in spawning salmon was developed for an introductory-level, non-majors biology course to help address one ...


Darwin's Finches and Natural Selection

In this "clicker case," students learn about natural selection through the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant and colleagues on the finches of th ...


Do You See What Eye See?

A common misconception is that Darwin suggested that something as complex as the eye could not have evolved through natural selection. While the mi ...


Ecology of Individuals: Using Game Theory to Understand Animal Behavior

This case study is based on the game theory developed by John Maynard Smith where two behavioral strategies ("Hawks" and "Doves") compete over a co ...


Equal Time for Intelligent Design?

Whether Intelligent Design should be taught in a science classroom is a serious problem. This case study tackles the issue head-on by using intimat ...


Evolution and Plasticity in Guppies

This case study focuses on the relationship between evolution and plasticity using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach. Students view examples from ...


Evolution by Natural Selection in Oldfield Mice

The theory of evolution by natural selection is simple, elegant, and profound. Yet, a large number of undergraduate students including biology majo ...


Exaggerated Traits and Breeding Success in Widowbirds

Sexual selection has led to the evolution of interesting traits and behaviors in many animal species. In widowbirds, males undergo a dramatic chang ...


Fish Out of (Salt) Water

This interrupted case study is based on a journal article that describes the rapid adaptation of a population (in this case, steelhead trout) in re ...


Genetics and a Transcontinental Romance

Annika is a PhD student from Sweden who spends two years in the Solomon Islands to complete her fieldwork. During her stay in the South Pacific she ...


Giant Pandas, Hormones, and the Evolution of a Lazy Bear

This clicker case study looks at the role of hormone cascades in homeostatic control of metabolism in a charismatic organism, the Giant Panda.  ...


Got Blood?

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the major vector for transmission of numerous viral diseases, including yellow fever, dengue, and now, Zika. ...


Hidden in Plain Sight: Analysis of Biodiversity

This case study tells the story of John and Mary, two first-year college students learning about biodiversity while on a trip to Costa Rica where t ...


How Many More Thymes? A Case of Phytochemical Defense

This clicker case addresses several concepts related to the evolutionary ecology of herbivore defenses. A survey of several different studies that ...


I Scream for Ice Cream

Lactose intolerance, caused by a lack of persistent lactase enzyme expression, is a trait commonly observed in adult humans, with varying geographi ...


I'm Looking Over a White-Striped Clover

This case is an exploration of the process of natural selection using white clover (Trifolium repens) as an example. In general, two forms ...


It’s a Crocodile! No, a Fish! No, a Dolphin!

It is not uncommon to hear creationists argue that evolution is not science because no one saw it happen, or for students to wonder how we can know ...


Joel E. Greengiant Learns About Peas

This case study follows purveyors of peas, Joel E. and Jolene Greengiant, as they learn about the origin, biochemistry, genetics and eventual artif ...


Just a Spider Bite?

This case relates the story of two fictional college students, Kristen and Brent, who discover that they are infected with Staphylococcus aureu ...


King Tut's Family Secrets

This "clicker case" is based on several articles published in 2010 that determined the genealogy of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun based ...


Las alas del Diablo

Why are chilies so hot? This case study begins with a story about an undergraduate student who is inspired to learn about capsaicin production in c ...


Life Tables, Darwin’s Finches, and the Dynamics of Small Island Populations

This case study uses Darwin’s finches to teach students about life tables. Life tables are tables of statistics that relate to life expectanc ...


Little Mito

This case presents a fanciful story about the origin of the eukaryotic cell, a major milestone in the evolution of life. The characters of the stor ...


Man's Best Friend?

In this case, students learn how archaeology operates as an historical science by collecting and analyzing material evidence to make claims about t ...


Mathematics in Conservation

This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Fl ...


MDR Tuberculosis

In this case study on multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis, students consider ways in which to preserve health as a human right without subjecti ...


Mom Always Liked You Best

This interrupted case study is based on a journal article on the parenting behavior of American coots. Working through the case, students develop h ...


Monkey Brains

This case study in comparative physiology explores the connections between physiology, evolution and behavior. Students assume the role of research ...


MRSA in the NICU

DNA sequencing and analysis (bioinformatics) is an increasingly important tool for understanding biological data, including medical data. In this c ...


My Brother's Keeper

In this interrupted case study, students work in teams to interpret behavioral data with respect to evolutionary biology.  Specifically, the c ...


No Bats in the Belfry

This interrupted case study investigates the geographic origin of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). WNS i ...


No Matter If You’re Black or White

Human populations have adapted to varying intensities of sunlight with varying tones of skin coloration. The balanced interplay between melanin con ...


Not Necessarily on Purpose

In this “clicker case,” students learn about evolution, speciation, and natural selection as well as interpret phylogenies as they appl ...


Of Mammoths and Men

The discovery of a mammoth frozen in the Siberian tundra is the backdrop for this case study, which explores theories for the extinction of the gre ...


One Whale or Two or … ?

This case study focuses on the intersection of defining a scientific species and defining a legal species. The compelling story of Lolita, an orca ...


Patient Zero

Emerging diseases and potential pandemics make the news nearly every year. Students (and everyone else) may wonder where new infectious diseases co ...


Peek-a-Bamboo!

This case study was written for an introductory course for biology majors who are first learning about embryonic development. The case is composed ...


Peppered Moths and the Industrial Revolution

This interrupted case study was written for students to gain a better understanding of evolutionary concepts and principles as they develop their s ...


Poor Devils

Cancer is usually thought to be a disease that affects individuals. But could cancer evolve to become infectious? This case follows the research on ...


Reproductive Isolation in Columbines

This clicker case uses plant-pollinator interactions in columbines as a biological scenario to teach students about evolution, reproductive isolati ...


Revolt of the Fungus People

This interrupted case study for the flipped classroom examines the interaction of plants and their mycorrhizal partners. The latter is one of the m ...


Selection and the Blond Beach Mouse

This "clicker" case study explores ultimate and proximate explanations for cryptic coloration in animals through the work of Dr. Hopi Hoekstra of H ...


Selection on a Case by Case Basis

This "clicker case" gives students an opportunity to apply their understanding of three different types of selection (directional, stabilizing, and ...


Seven Skeletons and a Mystery

This problem-based learning case uses Archaeopteryx, the most famous fossil in the world, to show the vital role that fossils play in unde ...


Sex and the Komodo Dragon

In this clicker case study for a flipped classroom, students familiar with the stages of meiosis work in small groups to determine the predicted ge ...


Shooting the Poop

This group-based case study is based on research by Dr. Martha Weiss using silver-spotted skipper caterpillars (Epargyreus clarus (Lepidop ...


Should Dinosaurs Be Cloned from Ancient DNA?

Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, as a novel and then a blockbuster movie, reawakened the public's fascination with dinosaurs. Although di ...


Si el Norte Fuera el Sur

In this case study, students are given the task of developing a recovery plan to protect a recently discovered population of Central American squir ...


Something’s Fishy in Paxton Lake

In this interrupted case study, students explore the mechanisms of speciation while working in groups to design a series of experiments to determin ...


Speciation and the Threespine Stickleback

This case study teaches students about allopatric speciation through an investigation of the benthic and limnetic sticklebacks of Paxton Lake, whic ...


Super Bug

Sam, a pre-med college student, routinely gets dialysis and develops a urinary tract infection. The infection is from a bacterium that the news med ...


Testing for Grazer Adaptation to Toxic Algae

The intent of this interrupted case study is to present a clear example of both the scientific method and evolutionary adaptation in a model system ...


The Case of Desiree's Baby

This case is based on Kate Chopin’s short story “Desiree’s Baby,” a tragic tale of race and gender in antebellum Louisiana ...


The Case of the Sexually Arrested Orangutans

This case examines the hormonal control of the development and maturation to adulthood and the role of stress hormones in that developmental proces ...


The Coelacanth: An Odd Fish

This "clicker case" is a redesign of a case, also in our collection, by Robert H. Grant titled "A Strange Fish Indeed: The 'Discovery' of a Living ...


The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

Woolly mammoths and other cold-adapted animals, such as reindeer and musk ox, developed a number of adaptations that allowed them to survive in fri ...


The Dangers of Deicing

Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the ...


The Dating Game

In this role-playing case study, students attempt to determine the identity of a variety of human fossils based on characteristics described during ...


The Death of Baby Pierre

This directed case study on a genetic disorder was developed for an exam on genetics for a general biology course.  The case is based on an ar ...


The Evolution of Color Vision in Monkeys

This case study examines the evolution color vision in Old World and New World monkeys from multiple biological perspectives. This integrative appr ...


The Evolution of Creationism

This PBL case on Intelligent Design was written for freshman biology majors at a Christian liberal arts college. Students read about the claims and ...


The Evolution of Human Skin Color

While the concept of evolution by natural selection is very simple, it is often misunderstood by students. This is partly due to preconceptions the ...


The Evolving Genetics of Disease Resistance

This interrupted case study for the flipped classroom applies evolutionary genetics research to human health. Students learn about a naturally occu ...


The Galapagos

Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species forma ...


The Horseshoe Crab

This case study examines the population dynamics of the horseshoe crab, which is sometimes described as a “living fossil.” Students are ...


The Itsy-Bitsy Spider: An Analysis of Spider Locomotion

The evolution of physiological characteristics can be strongly influenced by physics. Animals whose physiology allows them to better escape predato ...


The Missing Link

The setting for this case study is a paleontological dig in East Africa, where “Sam,” an American undergraduate student, has unearthed ...


The Modern Caveman’s Dilemma

During the Paleolithic era, human life expectancy was only 33 years—roughly half of what it is today. We owe our more extended lives in part ...


The Molecular Origin of Life: Replication or Metabolism-First? Advanced Version

This case explores both the evidence and inconsistencies in the two major hypotheses for the origins of life on Earth: Replication-First or Metabol ...


The Molecular Origin of Life: Replication or Metabolism-First? Introductory Version

This case explores both the evidence and inconsistencies in the two major hypotheses for the origins of life on Earth: Replication-First or Metabol ...


The Riddle of the Red Queen

This case study introduces students to the "Red Queen Hypothesis." The hypothesis states that when two species compete for a limited resource or ex ...


The Spark of Life

In biology classes, students are typically taught that spontaneous generation does not take place. And yet, at the origin of life, life had to aris ...


The Story of Dinosaur Evolution

In this case study, students write their own “evolution stories” based on information taken from a review article by Paul Sereno on the ...


The Waiting Game

In this interrupted case study, students examine the cooperative courtship behavior of long-tailed manakins. Males of the long-tailed form leks, ar ...


Threats to Biodiversity

In this case study, students learn about introduced species and how they pose a threat to biodiversity by analyzing the impact of introduced specie ...


Toxic Circumstances

This interrupted case study tells the true story of Karl P. Schmidt, a herpetologist and museum curator who was bitten by a venomous snake in 1957. ...


Trouble in Paradise

In this case study, students apply principles of evolution they have learned in class to create their own story explaining the evolutionary history ...


Unintended Consequences of Plant Domestication on Plant-Insect Interactions

This case study investigates how plant domestication sometimes produces unintended consequences for plant-insect interactions. The narrative follow ...


What is a Species?

This "clicker case" is modified from Martin Kelly's case study "As the Worm Turns: Speciation and the Apple Maggot Fly," also in our collection. Cl ...


When Wilma Met Fred

This "clicker case" follows a professor and his students in a study abroad course in Tanzania who are searching for human fossils in an effort to b ...


Where’s the Evidence?

This analysis case study uses a jigsaw activity in which students learn about characteristics of the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 ...


Which Came First, the Mutation or the Antibiotic?

This case study presents the story of Phil, an undergraduate majoring in biology, whose Russian cousin Dimitri has contracted tuberculosis (TB) fro ...


Why Did the Snake Cross the Road?

Although Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is a fundamental part of introductory biology classes, students often have difficulty understanding its implica ...


Why Sex is Good

This interrupted case is based on a 2005 article in Nature written by three scientists from the Imperial College London that deals with th ...