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What is Mutation?

what is mutation

What is mutation? Well to understand that, first you need a quick primer on DNA. Everyone has DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) inside of them. That’s how you got your mom’s blue eyes and your dad’s height. DNA is the genetic instruction used in the development, aesthetic and functioning of every human being, including you! Look to your right. Now look to your left. Your neighbors aren’t carbon copies of you, are they? That’s because no two people have the exact same DNA. Even identical twins have different DNA.

Check out our rap, We are DNA, to better understand DNA and the role it plays in creating us.

Now, like all things on Earth, DNA is not perfect. Changes can occur in DNA sequences. These are called mutations. What is mutation, you ask? A gene mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence. These changes can be inherited or acquired. Inherited mutations are passed on from parents to children. These help explain genetic disorders. Acquired mutations are caused by environmental factors like UV rays from the sun.

Mutations can also be positive, however. Without mutation, evolution could not occur. Mutations help organisms become better suited to the environment. Think about different peoples skin color. People from colder, cloudier climates tend to have lighter skin, right? That’s because with less sunlight available humans need as much help as possible to absorb the few UV rays there are. People living in sunnier climates have darker skin to help protect the skin and sweat glands from the sun.

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