Glendale Community College Anthropology Essay

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Read the scenario below, then write a response to the question that you see below the scenario. Turn in your answer as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file. Double-space your answer.



Sock monkeys live in a forest. They are brown with bright red stripes on the tops of their heads. They are arboreal and they are omnivores, eating many different kinds of fruits, leaves, and insects. They spend most of their time in the middle or lower branches of trees, but when they are in ambrosia trees they will sometimes carefully climb to the very tops because this is where most of the ambrosia fruit grows. This particular fruit is much sweeter than any of the other fruits — or anything else — the sock monkeys find to eat in the forest, and they like the sweetness.

Now imagine that a new species arrives in this forest. It is the hungry hawk, a carnivorous species that hunts from the sky. It uses sharp, color vision to spot small animals on the ground or at the tops of the trees, and swoops down to catch them in its claws. It mostly feeds on small rodents. Most sock monkeys are light enough for the hawk to be able to snatch up and carry away as a meal, too. The largest sock monkeys, however are too big for the hawks to carry away.


Based on natural selection theory, describe (in complete sentences) how sock monkeys might evolve over time in response to this new predator:

  • First, describe three evolutionary changes that might take place in the sock monkey population, due to natural selection, and caused by the hungry hawk’s arrival in the forest. For each one explain:

    • how the trait that evolves will be different from the old trait, and
    • why this new trait increases the ability of the sock monkeys to survive.
    • Note that you do not need to explain the process of natural selection here — you’ll do that in the next section!
  • Next, choose one of these evolutionary changes and give a step-by-step description of how this evolution would take place according to the theory of natural selection. Be sure to lay out the process in thorough detail and complete clarity!


You must double-space your paper.

You must write your paper in complete sentences.

There is no official minimum length. However, if your answer is less than about 300 words, it’s likely your answer is not providing an adequate level of detail or explanation. (I tried answering the question myself, and it took 344 words.)

Format your paper as seen below — include the section headers and numbering highlighted in yellow, exactly the way you see here — meaning actually include the words and numbers you see highlighted. (You do not need to highlight them, however.)


1. (Then write about the first one, as instructed.)

2. (Then write about the second one, as instructed.)

3. (Then write about the third one, as instructed.)


(Then write about the steps of natural selection, as instructed.)


You’re trying to demonstrate an understanding of natural selection. If you keep the following in mind, you’ll have a MUCH better chance of scoring well:

  • MAKE USE OF THE LECTURE SLIDE SHOWING THE FIVE BASIC STEPS OF NATURAL SELECTION. (I have attached it below. The lecture slides area available in the introduction to this unit. One of the slides in the “Natural Selection” lectures shows how natural selection works in five basic steps. Your description of natural selection should follow those steps. (Please put them in your own words, however.) This is how natural selection works. That’s it. That is how the monkeys will evolve. And so…

    • …the monkeys will not decide to evolve! They will simply live and reproduce or die and not reproduce. Which ones live to reproduce and which ones die will be the cause of the changes in the characteristics of the monkey population as generations go by.
    • …the evolutionary changes will not take place “in order” to help them survive — natural selection does not involve any plan or goal. Traits do not come into existence because they are helpful; first they must already exist and then they spread through the population if they help allow monkeys to live longer and thus reproduce more. No one plans it!
    • …the evolutionary changes will likely take place over a long period of time — think in terms of thousands of years! Natural selection can be the result of small advantages. Don’t feel the need to have every single monkey without an advantageous trait be suddenly killed off! It can take a long time for a trait to spread through or disappear from a population. And remember that individual monkeys will not change or evolve at all! It’s the population that evolves over the generations.
  • PLEASE FOCUS ON THE INFORMATION YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN RATHER THAN MAKING UP NEW FACTS ABOUT THE SOCK MONKEYS. While there is no single correct answer as to what changes will occur in the monkey population, the scenario gives you traits to focus on . Demonstrate your ability to apply natural selection to this scenario and those traits that I have given you.

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