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William Bateson had read Gregor Mendel's paper on inheritance in pea plants and wanted to know if the ratios held true for other plants and animals. When his team crossed a black cockerel and a black hen, they found that some of the chicks were white. When this was repeated, they always had 3 black to 1 white offspring. Bateson had no knowledge of genes, but used logic to explain the inheritance patterns. Botanist Timothy Walker uses skittles to demonstrate the ideas of genes being in pairs and having dominant and recessive forms. Bateson went on to find the same pattern of inheritance in other plants and a wide variety of animals.
This clip is from:
Hidden World
First broadcast:
21 June 2011

Classroom Ideas

Introduce the concept of factors or 'genes' in the inheritance of characteristics. Students could try to deduce from their own traits, such as hair and eye colour, what genes their parents passed on to them.