Are you a fan of the 19th Century
scientist, Charles Darwin?
If so, this website is for you!
This website aims to draw together key publications, media and websites on Charles Darwin for the enthusiast.
1) Find out about British reptiles. How does their appearance
differ? What do they feed on? Which habitats do they occur in?
How do they reproduce? What are the advantages and disadvan-
tages of producing eggs or giving birth to live young? Watch a
Bill Oddie video of common and sand lizards.
2) Dinosaur means 'land lizard'. Find out information about a handful of
dinosaurs. Do people think that they laid eggs? What are the
theories as to why most became extinct? In which geological time period did most dinosaurs become extinct?
What might cause a local common lizard population to become extinct nowadays? Consider threats and legal protection. What is the impact of extinction on evolution? (Species traits can no longer be passed on through reproduction; the animals that are no longer suited to an enviroment become extinct, whilsts better adapted creatures can take their place and thrive).
3) Look at the variety of sundews native to the UK (you can avoid the hybrids if you wish). Look at videos. Watch a Black & White 1930's British Pathe film about sundews, including their flowers and seedling growth. Look at close-ups of the round-leaved sundew featured in the story. Where can they be found? Look at bog, heathland and moorland habitats. What are their requirements? How do sundews reproduce? What might have caused the local extinction of round-leaved sundew from Keston Common? (eg. collection of plants, drying out soils due to changes in ground water or the growth of trees, lack of management leading to build up of leaf litter and dense grass). Look at a distribution map of the species in the UK. Find out about the work of the Millenium Seed Bank in conserving seeds of rare plant species from around the world. Search the database to see if the seeds of the three British sundews have been conserved because they are thought to be globally threatened. (You'll find that they're not on the database when you search it). Watch the latter part of this video of someone trying out part of Darwin's sundew experiments. Buy a sundew. 'Feed it' different materials eg. meat, cheese, plastic, cornflakes, paper. Which does it react to and appear to be 'eating'? Design your experiments and record your results scientifically.
SUMMARY OF LEARNING POINTS IN THE STORY
* Some species have developed particular, specialised methods of capturing prey. The Round leaved sundew uses sticky hairs to capture insects to supplement its 'diet'.
* Similar species have evolved different means of reproducing in order to be succcessful in the different environments in which they occurs. The viviparous lizard retains its eggs and gives birth to live young whilst the sand lizard lays eggs in the sand.
* Public pressure can be one of the contributing factors to the extinction of lcoal species. Trampling and removal of plants, such as the sundew, could have partly led to the species demise at Keston Common.