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.

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Darwin & The Rabbit - Lesson Ideas

1) Discuss what a parasite and host are.  Look at the appearance and

biology of the toothwort.  Find out about the life of the

Common Shrew.  and its habits.  Find out about their distribution across the world and footage of them foraging with there long, flexible noses. Do shrews have parasites?  Common shrews can be bothered by tapeworms, nematodes, fleas and ticks. In a study in Russia, parasite fauna on the common shrew included 23 ectoparasite species: fleas--12, ixodid ticks--2, gamasid mites--7, and myobiid mites--2 species. See a picture of a flea on a baby shrew. Look at the life cycle of a flea.  How is a flea adapted to its lifestyle? Look at a photo of a flea that has just finished feeding.  Find out about the flea-carried virus on rabbits called myxamatosis.  Look at a human parasite - head louse - and play a game.


2) Find out information about wild rabbits, and see footage.  Consider some of the threats to rabbits (eg. stoats, shooting).  How do rabbits avoid danger? (eg. Look out on hind legs, forage close to burrow entrances or cover, stamp back feet, forage in numbers etc.) Find out about the domestication of rabbits and the reasons they are reared (eg. aesthetics, meat). Look at the variety of domestic breeds of rabbit. Which breed is each pupil's favourite? Look at a domestic rabbit giving birth on a nest made out of its own fur.  Give your pupils a rabbit quiz (Newsround, Easy Science for Kids),




* Some species are parasitic, having co-evolved with its host species.  The toothwort is parasitic on the trees of hazel, for example.  It does not possess a means of manufacturing its own food through photosynthesis (it has no green chlorophyll).

* Various traits cad be promoted in a species through intensive, domestic breeding.  This produces different varieities or breeds with different characteristics (eg. differences in bone structure), but does not detract from the fact that the species remains a species.  A lop-eared rabbit and a dwarf rabbit are still rabbits and therefore still capable of mating with each other to produce offspring.

* Aberrations refer to something that deviates from the norm.  A deviation in the normal structure or number of chromosomes in an organism is a genetic aberration.  Mutations occur naturally in populations, rarely.  Melanism, producing black rabbits in natural populations,  and albinism, producing white rabbits in natural populations,  is caused by mutations in the gene associated with coat colours.