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  Gregor Mendel (1822-84) was a monk from Austria who questioned why offspring inherit some of their parentsā traits and why sometimes the offspring look like a mixture of both their parents.

Mendel saw that many pea plants had things in common with their offspring.  He used peas as part of an experiment to test why parents pass on traits to their children.  Mendel's theory was that all living things or organisms (including peas) contain traits that are passed down from parent to offspring.

Why did Mendel choose to use peas?

· Many traits like the texture of the pea coat are easy to study in peas.

· Two different peas can be easily combined by scientists to produce other peas.

· There are a lot of seeds that are produced by each pea plant.  This means that there are more peas to study and that Mendel could easily find peas to work on.

· Peas have something called simple traits.  A simple trait means that when traits are passed on, there is no overlap between the traits.  In this case Mendel studied if a pea was round or wrinkled, its color, and its size.  These are the simple traits that were present in the peas that Mendel studied.

Did Mendel finally figure out how parents pass on traits to their offspring?

 Click here to find out if Mendel was right.

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