What is Inheritance?


A diagram showing how children inherit blood type from their parents.

Inheritance is why you look similar to you mum or dad. People’s bodies have characteristics, like the shape of their nose or the colour of their eyes, and parents pass on these characteristics to their children, this is inheritance.

We are made of cells like a building is made of bricks. Our cells are told what to do by DNA. DNA is the boss and tells the cells how to make a human body. All of us are made up of DNA from both our mum and dads so we inherit orders on how to build a body from both of them that is why we have characteristics from both our parents.

People look like people. Every person is unique but they have far more in common than they are different. This is because we are all related and we have all inherited characteristics from our ancestors.

We share an ancestor with a monkey but that ancestor lived a very long time ago so we look more different from monkeys. Even so, people and monkeys still have a lot in common. We both have two legs, two eyes, two hands and many other things. generally, the closer related we are to another species, the more like them we look.

Watch this video to find out more about DNA, the molecule which we inherit from our parents

What is a species?

Drawing of some dog breeds.

Drawing of some dog breeds.

A species is a group of animals that all look similar and can have babies with any other member of that species. Humans are a species called Homo sapiens. We are one species because we all look very similar and can have children with each other.

But the members of a species can look very different from each other. Dogs are all one species called Canis lupus. This species includes every dog breed, from great danes to poodles and even wolves.

Cats, on the other hand, are a different species to dogs because a cat cannot have a baby with a dog.