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Dragon Genetics: Independent Assortment and Gene Linkage

Dragon!In the lab, Dragon Genetics: Independent Assortment and Gene Linkage, students learn the principles of independent assortment and gene linkage in activities which analyze inheritance of multiple genes on the same or different chromosomes in hypothetical dragons. Students learn how these principles derive from the behavior of chromosomes during meiosis and fertilization.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

We invite comments on this Hands-On Activity and the accompanying Teacher Preparation Notes, including suggestions for other teachers who are planning to use the activity, useful preparatory or follow-up activities, additional resources or any questions you have related to the activity, or a brief description of any problem you might have encountered. If you have a relevant Word document you would like to have posted on this comments page, such as a version of the protocol you have used in your classroom, or if you would prefer to send your comments or questions in a private message, please write Ingrid Waldron at

See also a complete list of activities:
Hands-on Activities for Teaching Biology to High School and Middle School Students



Serendip Visitor's picture

Independet Assortment & Gene Linkage-pg 7


On the handout on page 8 I do not understand which male gamete you are wanting to use for the dihybrid cross? Per what I have deciphered, I have concluded four different male gametes which I would think affects the outcome of the following questions.

Please advise, thank you!

iwaldron's picture

Genetic Linkage Explanation

You are correct that there are four different types of male gametes (as derived on the top half of page 8). The Punnett square will show the four different types of offspring that can result from the cross between this father (four types of gamete) and mother (one type of gamete). The Punnett square should allow the students to notice that the closely linked alleles for wings and fire-breathing will always be inherited together, but the alleles for wings and horns will be inherited independently since they are on separate chromosomes. The Punnett square should allow the students to answer the questions at the bottom of page 8 and on page 9. I don't want to be any more detailed on this public website, but if you have additional questions, please write me at .



Serendip Visitor's picture

I'm doing practical in a

I'm doing practical in a school in a few days and I really want to use this activity. I put all the chromosomes on the sticks as it said and then I got lost after step three. Can anyone please help me ? I really need this to pass my practical. Thanks! I just need more clarification on the activity.

iwaldron's picture

Need clarification of question

I'm unclear what your difficulty is or what you are referring to by "step three". Please give more specific information about what your question is and where you are in the Student Handout or Teacher Preparation Notes, so I can try to help you.


Serendip Visitor's picture

On the teacher's prep notes,

On the teacher's prep notes, I have printed out two sheets of each page for the autosome genes and one copy of each of the sex chromosome plage.

I cut out the strips, 36 strips on each age. Now this is where I'm confused, do I glue the same strips (e.g. ABcDe) on both sides of one popsicle stick? For the female sex chromosome, do I just use any two strips from the page? What does the + and - mean? But for the male chromosomes, I don't know which one is the x and the f chromosome ! I'm so confused!


So each student gets four autosome sticks all together, each a different color, and one sex chromosome stick. Am I correct? Do the students just then randomly drop any stick on the table?What will be recorded? The whole chromose (AbcDe)? But they have that on both sides of the stick am I right?

I don't know what the students record on the activity sheet as well

I'm so confused. Any clarification would help! Is there any videos showing an example of this hands on activity? I need this for my prac!

Thank you so much!

iwaldron's picture

questions pertain to different activity – answers available

These questions pertain to the other version of Dragon Genetics, so I have posted a response in the comments section for Dragon Genetics: Principles of Mendelian Inheritance.


meaning of numbers's picture

I have a chance to try this

I have a chance to try this before in our class. It is highly recommended because we got a positive feedback upon trying this.

iwaldron's picture

Announcements of updated activities

Thanks for your appreciation! We have created a new listserv so that we can send announcements of updates for this activity and others in the set.  If you would like to be alerted to updates, you can sign up at /exchange/bioactivities/subscribe


iwaldron's picture

2010 revisions


The Student Handout has been slightly revised to clarify some of the questions. The Teacher Preparation Notes now include a possible Extension Activity, so students can learn about inheritance of two genes located far apart on the same chromosome, as well as two genes located very close together on the same chromosome or on different chromosomes. This extension activity is a worksheet, which we have found to be a useful supplement or alternative to hands-on activities for helping students to learn genetics.


Kathleen's picture

How long does this activity take?

I really want to try this activity with my class. How long does this activity typically take students? I need to make sure I allow enough time when planning my unit schedule.

iwaldron's picture

Time Needed for Dragon Genetics


Dear Kathleen,
We recommend that you allot two 50-minute periods, the first for the law of independent assortment (pages 1-6 of the student handout) and the second for genetic linkage and discussion (pages 7-10). Alternatively, you may want to cover pages 1-5 in the first period and pages 6-10 in the second period (when you could finish the law of independent assortment, cover genetic linkage, and have a brief discussion).
Good luck!


Paul's picture

Where can I find the answers

Where can I find the answers to the Dragon Genetics?

iwaldron's picture

Answers for Dragon Genetics Questions


Dear Paul,
We do not have a formal key available, but I think you'll find the questions relatively easy to answer if you first read a good basic introduction to genetics such as pages 251-8 and pages 274-9 in Biology, seventh edition, by Campbell and Reece. Also, for some of the questions, the next paragraph in the student handout provides some helpful explanatory material. The teacher preparation notes also provide information that will help you answer their questions.
Good luck!



Wendy's picture

Thank you!

I think your site is awesome! What great, creative and thorough explanations, activities and relevant material. It makes science fun and interesting as it should be.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Thank You!!

As a biology teacher for 12 years, I really like how your activities are there to reinforce the content. It makes things more tangible to the students. I also like the ability to clarify any questions about an activity. Kudos.

Carol's picture

fantastic activity!

I used this activity with a home school group ranging in age from 10 to 13. They LOVED it. The kids asked to take home extra copies of worksheets and are busily building many dragons to bring back and compare for our next meeting. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture

where can I look for the answers

where can I found the answers of this work is that I want to learn biology for my own and the best way was from internet and I found this page but I dont know any of the answers

Ingrid Waldron's picture

I think the best way to

I think the best way to learn biology on your own would be to purchase a used copy of a good introductory biology textbook, which will be more reliable and comprehensive than most websites. A very readable and informative textbook that I recommend is David Krogh's Biology: A Guide to the Natural World, 2009, which is available in paperback. I would guess you could buy a used copy through Our activities are designed for teachers to use, but some of the websites listed at the end of Teacher Preparation Notes for the Genetics activity might be a good starting place for you to learn genetics.

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