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.

Tree of Lifecrop orchidjpegcrop

Darwin & The Spider - Lesson Ideas

1)  Find out about the specialities of spider silk. Find out about the scientific quest

to produce spider silk. Watch a video of a garden spider spinning a web.  

Watch close-up video of a garden spider catching and feeding on

a centipede. Play computer games involving spiders (eg. No. 1, No.2, No.3).

Research garden spiders (eg. BBC Nature, Wikipedia,

 British Spider Society, Kids Connect).  Look at a diagram of a spider's external

anatomy from above and below. Look at images of fossil spiders. Look at

a press release relating to a spider fossil find.


Talk about innate and learnt behaviours in humans (eg. being able to go to the toilet v controlling when to go to the toilet, making noises with your tongue v speaking a language, moving fingers v playing a tune on a piano, abiity to move legs v skipping, detecting taste v developing a flavour for things, being able to see shapes v being able to read,  facial expressions v 'making faces').


Make a large spiders web from pipe cleaners, thin rope or yarn - big enough so

that a pupil can place their fingers (four fingers from each hand interlocked) at

the centre of the web.  Ask one pupil to pretend they are a spider; ask another pupil to touch a part of the web with a pencil.  Can the 'spider' detect in which direction the 'prey' has entered the web?  For this to work the 'spider' must be blindfolded. Spiders use the sense of touch.  Find out about their other senses.  Your (the spiders) ability to create a web using your fingers (spinnerets) is 'innate'; your improved speed   in creating the same web a second time is 'learnt'.  


2) Look at a diagram showing the external anatomy of bats.  Note the bones

in the wing. Look at a diagram showing the layout of bones in other animals.

A similar pattern has been retained in different species through evolution - it must be a good 'design' or

trait to have for it to appear in many species. Watch a video of a noctule bat flying and roosting. Find out

about British bats.  The Common pipistrelle, Soprano pipistrelle, Serotine and Long-eared bat fly around

Darwin's former home these days. Consider the evolution of bats.




* Some species have developed or evolved specialised organs and abilities.  These can also vary between the sexes.

* Instinct is an inherited behaviour, that is, it has not been learnt.

* Practice and experience, achieved through learning, can build-on the abilities/skills individuals have when born.

* A range of characteristics inherited by individuals and species can be called into play to help them cope with different aspects of their life (eg. the challenges they face).

* Different species can have the same structures, such as skeletons, but modified for different uses.