Thursday, February 12, 2009

Charles Darwin - 200

Wired.com celebrates Charles Darwin's 200th birthday with a very useful piece on the history and details of evolutionary theory. Some comments:

I am pleased that Alfred Russel Wallace gets a mention - he made similar observations and drew the same conclusions as Darwin while traveling through the East Indies. It was his determination to publish his findings that finally drove Darwin to put pen to paper. In this way Wallace is the other hero of evolutionary theory.

Dinosaur Footprint
The teaching of evolution in schools should not be too difficult. Children love dinosaurs, heck they often know more Linnean names for dinosaurs that many fully qualified geologists (including me!) Evolution should be taught within their context, both the ability to adapt as well as the forces of natural selection can be easily applied. (That's a dinosaur's footprint taken in a stream bed in Central Texas, © focalplane.com)

My own recollections of learning about evolution started in primary school when we were shown pictures of a moth that was light colored in the country but dark in industrial areas so that it blended with its background. Such subjects should be taught early, not left until too late!