Genes are Us. And Them.

Genes are Us. And Them.

Use this infographic to explore how many genes humans share with other species.


5 - 8


Biology, Genetics

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Idea for Use in Classroom

Introduce the infographic to students by asking the following questions:

  1. What does the title of the infographic mean?
  2. Trace the DNA trail. What does it show?
  3. Which organisms do we share the most genes with? The least?
  4. In what ways could understanding common genes be useful to us?

Venn Diagram Challenge

Assign pairs of students one of the organisms on the infographic. Each pair should identify general characteristics of the organism and of a human as seen in the infographic drawings and then use these characteristics to complete a Venn Diagram. Characteristics shared by both should be placed within the overlapping circles. Students may use outside research to find additional similarities or differences in physical characteristics between their assigned organism and a human.

Once completed, have students present their Venn Diagrams. As a class, have students arrange their Venn Diagrams in order from least to greatest amount of common traits. Students can compare their sequence of Venn Diagrams to the infographic, and then discuss why the sequences may or may not align.

The Platypus

As an extension, students can use the infographic to investigate the sequence of species between the chicken and dog. Have students research the classification of each organism (e.g. mammal, fish, bird) and then use this information to consider why the sequence of species might be surprising. Highlight the unique genome of the platypus to help students understand why it is not closer to the other mammals in the sequence.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

April 1, 2024

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