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Sexual and Asexual Organisms

Since this lesson is about genetics, we'd like to start by telling you something about the science itself. Then we'll get into specifics about sexual and asexual organisms and reproduction.


Genetics is the study of heredity -- of how characteristics are passed on from one generation to the next. It can explain, among other things, why you resemble your father in some ways and your mother in others.

The ancient Greeks had their own theories about heredity. And there are even references to genetic principles in the Bible. But the science of modern genetics began with a biologist-monk named Gregor Mendel in the 1860's. He made his discoveries while growing, breeding and cross-breading peas in an Austrian monastery garden.

It was Mendel who figured out that individual characteristics are inherited because of special "particles" in the cells. These particles came to be called genes. And the science of heredity came to be known as genetics.