Are Zoos Avoiding Evolution?

Dr. Evilution discusses and what teachers can do to make up for the it.

I like this idea: If you take your class on field trips to these places, design an exercise that charges your students with designing more interesting, evolution-based plaques. If you have a digital camera, you can take pictures of the existing plaques for use back in the classroom. Then get your students to send the ideas (slickly packaged) to the director of the place you visited. The students will enjoy being simultaneously engaged in both science and social change.


3 responses to “Are Zoos Avoiding Evolution?

  1. Even the pro-evolution plaques in his Flickr group don’t satisfy me at all — I guess I’m spoiled by Wikipedia. For example, this one says that silver foliage helps fight intense heat, but it doesn’t say what changed, or in what kind of plant. Unless you say “silver leaves evolved when green ivies lost their forest habitat and started producing less chlorophyll” [fake explanation], you haven’t explained anything with evolution. You’ve just said, “It is handy for these plants to have silver color, so they do.”

    What I want to see in zoo plaques is “Why is this animal the way it is?” For example, this plaque should say “Why does this tree kangaroo have a much heavier tail than other mammals? Because Australia doesn’t have monkeys, so the tree kangaroo gained an advantage by being able to balance in trees and collect fruit.” Another example: “Why does this tree boa still have vestigial legs? All snakes are descended from creatures with legs, but lost them once they had no use for them. This snake still retains stumps of its legs because they are used during courtship, so having them helps the snake reproduce.”

    I’d like to see a zoo that was just an evolution museum… or an online zoo that had hyperlinks, so I could really learn about each animal instead of just looking at it and reading one paragraph.

  2. I, and I am assuming most other people, go to zoos to see animals and how they behave.
    Not to read plaques.

    That just seem like something that belongs more in a science museum, especially since there the employees will more than likely be more knowledgeable and be able to answer any evolutionary questions more accurately.

  3. Thanks for your perspective, mediamuddler, maybe I’m trying to make zoos something they’re not.

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