Habitat Postcards: How to decode DNA sequences

Read these instructions carefully, then return to the code wheel to find out which species you have discovered in your habitat!

On your habitat postcard you will find four different lifeforms that our scientists have been looking at. On one side of these species is a picture, and on the other is the scientific name of that lifeform and a nine-letter sequence of the letters A, T, G and C. in different combinations. This sequence of letters is a DNA code which you can decode using the code wheel. Decode the sequence of letters to find out more about your four species, just like our scientists are doing on Darwin Tree of Life!

To decode your DNA sequences follow the instructions below.

You will need: 

✉️ The species from your habitat postcard

?Paper and pencil/pen


First find the DNA sequences you are going to  decode.

Use the code wheel below to discover which species is hidden in the DNA.

? Start in the middle and choose the section that matches the first letter in your three letter DNA code.

? Work your way outward from this first section to find the part of the second ring that matches your second DNA letter. And continue into the third ring for your third DNA letter.

? Write down the letter from the outer ring in the space above your code.

Example:  For code ATC you start in the red ‘A’ section in the centre, then move out to the green ‘T’ section that touches it, and then from there to the blue ‘C’ section. The outer section next to the blue ‘C’ has a letter ‘I’ in it so this means that the DNA code ATC = I.

Repeat this process for each set of three letters in the nine-letter code on your card. You should end up with a new three letter code.

Below the code wheel, you will find a series of three-letter codes. Click or tap on your code to find out which species you found in your habitat!