12 Feb 2009

Darwin Day 2009

Happy Darwin Day human animals!

Clearly in the home of a biologist and (I may have been rubbish but...) an ex-physicist, a day dedicated to honouring the great man and science in general is not going to pass by unnoticed.

I was reading to Lady and Thomas about Charles Darwin and his work. We talked about how he was fascinated by all the different species he observed on his travels and wanted to find a way to explain such diversity. We mentioned how the generations before Darwin thought there were only a few hundred types of animal, as many believed literally that they'd all had to fit on Noah's Ark. Thomas didn't know that story so Lady enlightened him. "Ah," said he, "it's like Evan Almighty". Well, close enough. But as I explained, by Darwin's time scientists and explorers already knew there were far too many species to fit in a boat ("unless it was as big as the world"-T). And Darwin was really puzzled about why this was, and after he read a book about people, poverty and the struggle for survival, he decided to apply those ideas to animals. But he knew his theory would upset a lot of people so he had to go carefully and he worked hard for years, collecting samples and writing letters, gaining evidence and working out the details of his theory before he felt he had to let other people know.

We read a little bit about barnacles since the big guy studied them for years. Lady already knew that they're crustaceans. Both were surprised to discover that they catch food with their feet, that they're hermaphrodites (cool new word) and best of all, that they have the longest penis of the animal kingdom relevant to their length.

Later Thomas was telling Gordon what he'd learned; Charles Darwin apparently, built a huge boat during a flood.

Teaching fail!

But Thomas did remember what he'd learned about barnacles somehow!

Today we met Dean outside his hospital and had a late lunch at McD's since we don't do dine-in, then drove up to the zoo to have some Darwin Day appropriate fun. It was 2.45 when we arrived but sadly we were not allowed in as they close to visitors at 2.30 in the winter. Boy did I feel llama-ish. I thought of invoking the occasion to see if I could convince the man to let us have just an hour or so to wander around but I wasn't up to it.

So we went to the playground by the beach. Lady and Duncan spent much time on the beach, he throwing stones into the sea while she collected interesting shells and examined seaweed and various bits of slimy stuff she found lying around. She's a natural naturalist. Thomas, not being a fan of the beach when it's cold, shimmied up poles and swung on ropes and other peculiar monkey like things. Actually, I suppose he was demonstrating our primate origins, so that was very suitable for the day too.

Back home, I baked a cake and Lady helped to decorate it. We all had a nice piece of Darwin's birthday cake, and Thomas made a toast, "cheers to Darwin, even though he's dead."

(Oh and I was in the local paper.)


John Braine said...

Oh noes, how did I miss this? Even though there's lots of Darwin stuff on telly I missed that today as Darwin day.

If ever there was a day to sit at the keyboard and write the post that's in my head reviewing 'The Ancestor's tale' today was the day.


>Charles Darwin apparently,
>built a huge boat during a flood.

That's hilarious!


Front page news - go you!

Sharon McDaid said...

Ach well John, get the post out when you can. I'd like to read it, and link it back to Scientfic Blogging so more people get a chance to see it.

Yeah I'm a big star of my very small pond!

Anonymous said...

My town is having lots of borthday celebrations about Darwin, on account of it being his birthplace. Today they had a giant cake in the Square, but I didn't go to it. For the rest of the month there's walks, lectures and other events.

Manuel said...

tremendous stuff......love the cake.....love all cake actually

Sharon McDaid said...

@bullet, I can imagine there's a lot of civil pride in such a link to Darwin. I think I'd prefer to go to a walk or lecture than to partake of an enormous cake though. I mean, how clean would it be!

@Manuel, cake is gooood. Enormous cakes shared between strangers (as in bullet's town) might not be so good but fresh from the oven, still warm, iced sponge cake is faultless.

Anonymous said...

Yes, well, after WEEKS (months even) of hyping the cake up to epic proportions there was a picture in the newspaper of it.
I almsot took Jacob to see it. It's just as well I didn't as I think he would have been overwhelmed by the erm, um, er, rather quite average size of the thing : {: http://www.shropshirestar.com/2009/02/13/cheers-for-charlies-birthday/

The Sales Specialist said...

You're right, Bobbies.
Vetroquilism is fun.

[Jerry imitating windshield wiper]

English - SDH