Darwin’s Chicken Coop

This afternoon we joined the Nature Live talk from the Natural History Museum ahead of our work on Evolution and Inheritance next term.
These discussions with curators from the museum introduce the children both to the role of a curator and an aspect of Science from the museum.

We learnt about the terms ‘monophyletic’ and ‘polyphyletic’ related to the number of ancestors a species has. We looked at lots of strange looking chickens and discovered how they all came from the same ancestors.

We learnt about the work of Mendel and his evolution work on pea plants. Sadly the world was not ready for this German scientist’s work and his work was not published.

Darwin spent a lot of time experimenting on chickens – this is not so well-known as the fact her experimented with pigeons. Chickens were very easy to breed and keep so it was easy for him to experiment on them.

Hein Van Grouw discussed the difficulties that Darwin and other scientists of his day had without a knowledge of genetics and genetic mutations.

We discussed whether chickens could never fly or whether this developed over time – some chickens (jungle fowl) can fly, as can pheasants however domestic chickens are too heavy.

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