Evolution is Coming to a Storybook Near You

March 28th, 2014

NPR Blog 2Young children are notorious for their surfeit of why questions, often directed at aspects of the biological world. Take a three-year-old to the zoo, for example, and you might be asked to explain why zebras have stripes, why elephants have trunks and why flamingos have such skinny legs. (Also: why you can’t pet the lion, why another cookie is off limits and why it’s really, really time to go home.)

Yet this childhood curiosity about the adaptive traits of biological organisms, which Rudyard Kipling recognized with his whimsical “Just So Stories,” is all but ignored by current education standards in the United States. It isn’t until high school — more than a decade after that curious preschooler wandered the zoo — that children start to learn how natural selection really works.

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