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Animals and Humans Say the Darnest Things

Cindy Jackson
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 3-5 forty-minute class periods


The animal kingdom never ceases to amaze the most intelligent of beings referred to as humans. Animals have an uncanny way of communicating with humans without having the ability to vocalize as people do. The questions that will be addressed in this lesson are: 1) How do animals know how to communicate with each other and humans; and 2) In what ways are animals similar to humans, on both a behavioral level and-on a much smaller scale-the molecular level? This lesson will examine the key DNA coding which leads to key proteins animals use to maintain their existence.

Major corporate support is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Ford.

Subject Matter

Science: Genetics and Psychology

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Describe the methods animals use to communicate with humans;
  • Describe the similarities and differences in the amino acid sequences of various animals including humans;
  • Create a short film that examines communication methods that occur between humans and animals.

From the National Council of Teachers of Science Standards, available online at

CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
  • The cell
  • Molecular basis of heredity
  • Biological evolution
  • Interdependence of organisms
  • Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
  • Behavior of organisms
From the National Council of High School Teachers of Psychology, available online at

CONTENT STANDARD 7: How heredity interacts with environment to influence behavior Students are able to (performance standards):
7.1 Assess the effects of heredity and environment on behavior. Students may indicate this by (performance indicators):

  • identifying the relationships among DNA, genes, and chromosomes.
Media Components


NATURE: Episode #1705: "Wisdom of the Wild"

Web sites:

Communicating by Morse Code
This web site allows the student to type any message on the screen and then listen for the message communicated via Morse code.

The Complete List of Amino Acids
A complete list of all the amino acids found in various living organisms. It displays both two-dimensional and three-dimensional versions of the molecules.


For each student:

1. Handout - Humans and Animals Say the Darnest Things

2. Handout - Amino Acid Sequences- Finding Similarities