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We study genetics to learn about how features, such as hair colour and height, are passed to us from our parents. Information about our traits is encoded in genes, which are short sections of DNA found in chromosomes in human cells. You may think of each gene as a recipe for how our body looks and functions.
Each human cell contains 46 chromosomes, which are arranged in 23 pairs, with one member of each pair inherited from each parent. These chromosomes carry genetic information from both our parents, which combine to determine our traits. Each gene is responsible for a specific task, for example your eye colour! Differences in the DNA sequence are what make us all different! Same applies to other animals and plants, which all have different numbers of chromosomes: garden peas have 14 chromosomes, whereas elephants have 56!
In the following activity we will attempt to create and decode a “DNA recipe” for a dog to see how variations in DNA lead to the inheritance of different traits. Follow the directions below to create a DNA recipe for a dog. Using the traits key, you can read your DNA recipe and make a drawing of your dog showing its traits!
What do you need?
How does it work?
If someone else completed this activity with you, is your dog different or the same as theirs?
Link to the printable material: