What do all of these characters have in common? 

That's right!  They all have some form of a mutation.

Meeting the Mutants:
1.  The Incredible Hulk was a scientist who got caught in the blast of a bomb that he had created.  As a result of the explosion, he becomes transformed into the Hulk, who is a raging monstrosity with superhuman strength.  (picture from: http://epguides.com/IncredibleHulk/cast.jpg)
2.  The X-Men are a team of five teenagers who were all gifted with special superhuman like talents. (picture from: http://www.zianet.com/comic-booksuperstore/marvel/xmen-ultimate_guide.jpg)
3.  Spider man is a boy who gets bitten by a radioactive spider.  The bite gives Peter Parker spider-like abilities such as shooting a web, crawling/ walking up walls and superhuman strength. (picture from: http://bigheadmax.free.fr/wallpapers/images/spiderman.jpg)
4.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are four wise-cracking, pizza obsessed superheroes who fight the forces of evil from their sewer hideout.  (picture from: http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/thumb/4/40/300px-TMNTGroup.jpg)

   **** Challenge Question:**** 
            Can you name any other mutations in the entertainment industry?  What are their superhuman like qualities? 

So, know that you know that some of your favorite comic book characters are mutants:
What is a mutation?

    A mutation is a permanent change in the genetic information of a living organism.  This can include changes in the DNA of the cell, which is the molecule in each cell that directs the cell's activities.  Mutations change the numbers, types, or order of base pairs (A, T, G, and C).  They occur during cell division, when the DNA is copying itself, through a process called replication
                                                 http://contest.thinkquest.jp/tqj1998/10098/image/ori/dna.gif                                            http://www.historyoftheuniverse.com/images/mutation.gif
How can mutations affect organisms?
    Mutations can affect an organism by changing its physical characteristics (or phenotype) or it can impact the way DNA codes the genetic information (genotype). When mutations occur they can cause termination (death) of an organism or they can be partially lethal.  This means that the organism has difficulty adapting to and surviving in its environment.
    Mutations are usually the cause of many diseases and defects in an organism's life. 

Types of Mutations:
    There are many types of mutations that can be grouped according to their effects on the structure, the function, and the physical characteristics (phenotype) of an organism.  Of these specific types of mutations, they can be categorized into beneficial (helpful), less favorable (harmful), and non-effective (neutral) mutations.  Some examples are listed below:

                           http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com/Arch01/1084721406.jpg                                                                                   http://www.alanbauer.com/images/Critters/tree%20frog.jpg How do mutations occur and what causes them?
    Mutations can occur in two ways: spontaneously or by agents known as mutagens.  Spontaneous, or random, mutations occur because molecules are constantly moving inside a cell, which can cause collisions.  These collisions can cause interruptions in DNA replication which can result in damage of DNA information.   Also, because DNA is such a complex molecule, mutations can occur without any outside influences.   However, there are some other factors that influence the occurrence of a mutation.  A mutagen is an abnormal factor that changes genetic information.  Mutagens are substances such as x-rays, ultra-violet radiation, and chemicals that come from cigarette smoke.
    When damage occurs in a cell, three things can happen:
          1.  Enzymes, which are proteins that speed up a chemical reaction inside the cell, can repair the
              damage and the cell goes on to
function normally. (No
mutated cell!)
          2.  The cell can recognize that it needs to be repaired, but knows it can't fix the problem.  So, it
               goes through a process of terminating itself (also known as apoptosis).  (No mutated cell!)

          3.  The enzymes fail to repair the cell and it does not go through apoptosis.  Now, the cell has
               remained damaged and it continuesto divide with a permanent change in its genetic information.                 In other words, a mutation has occurred


Frequently Asked Questions about Mutations:

****To learn more about the types, causes, and effects of mutations:

Information for this page was obtained by:
Krogh, D. (2005). Biology: A Guide to the Natural World.  Pearson Prentice Hall. Upper: Saddle River, NJ.  <>
Mutations. (n.d.) Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia.  Retrieved on August 9, 2006 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation.
Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. (2002). McGraw Hill: New York. Vol. 4 p#151-153 and Vol. 7 p#771-772.