Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. In lieu of a cake (we’re a bit concerned about the flames from 207 candles), we’re celebrating the upcoming birthday of this pioneer in biology by sharing great student work related to evolution.

From Dr. Urs Schmidt-Ott’s course, Evolution and Development at the University of Chicago:

  • Insects that go through all four developmental stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) exhibit holometabolism (also called ‘complete metamorphosis’). A student doubled the size of the article, adding two paragraphs on the evolutionary context and and another five discussing theories on the evolution of this developmental sequence.
  • Another student contributed a section to the article on fish fins, exploring the evolution of paired fins. That contribution adds several paragraphs, and shares some history of “Gegenbaur hypothesis” that paired fins come from gills. The section briefly discusses how that theory has evolved and changed over time.

One of the major questions Darwin tackled was sexual dimorphism in species: Why are there differences in appearance between sexes? And why were so many of them so impractical? Darwin even once admitted that the entire idea of a peacock’s feather made him sick with frustration. Too bad he couldn’t look it up on Wikipedia.

Students in Dr. Kasey Fowler-Finn’s Evolutionary Biology course at St. Louis University have added tremendous content about dimorphism and sexual selection in species. They could have saved Darwin a lot of work.

These students also shared knowledge about sexual selection and mating patterns:

  • In an article on the Red flour beetle, student added bits on patterns of reproductive fitness and variation.
  • In the Drosophila_pseudoobscura article, students added sections on polyandry and its consequences for this species of fruit fly.
  • In the Gryllus_bimaculatus article, students added sections on polyandry for this species of field cricket.

Thanks to these students for contributing great content about evolution and species to Wikipedia.

It’s just one example of the kinds of work students can do through the Wikipedia Year of Science. We’re still able to support courses in current and upcoming terms that want their students to have a similar experience. We even offer an entire guidebook for students writing articles about Species, or another for Ecology, and even one for Genes and Proteins. If you want to find out more, check out the Year of Science page or drop us an e-mail.

Photo:Charles Darwin 01” by J. Cameron – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


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