Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Lesson on Bears and Punnett Squares

A recent conversation with a friend about black bears in our neighborhood (neighborhood is a relative term as I live on a six acre woodlot) reminded me about a neat National Geographic article that I read about five years ago. Back then National Geographic magazine had a cover story about the "Spirit Bears" of British Columbia. "Spirit Bear" refers to the Black Bears that are white in color due to a recessive trait called Kermodism. As always the National Geographic website has some neat resources to support the main article. One of the online resources for the Spirit Bear article is a Punnett Square that explains how two black Black Bears can produce a white Black Bear.

On a related note, National Geographic has a short video about photographing Polar Bears in their natural environments that you might find interesting. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
The story of the Spirit Bear could provide a good backdrop to an introductory lesson in genetics.