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It is an established fact that in living organisms there is considerable variation between individuals of the same species. It is also established that individuals of a species that are closely related have many similarities. The differences between organisms are due to differences in their environment and genes. That genes determine much variation explains why closely related individuals are similar. If genes are inherited, then the characteristics, which they code for, are inherited as well.

The study of genetic inheritance was pioneered by a monk called Gregor Mendel in the 1860's. He undertook large-scale experiments using pea plants. Data generated by these studies will be used later in this section. There are two types of variation which are defined in table 1, below. This section, like Mendel's work, will focus on the inheritance of discontinuous characteristics.

Table 1 : The inheritance of discontinuous characteristics
Table 1 : The inheritance of discontinuous characteristics

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