Category Archives: Evolution

On Time

by James Morris

When I was a teenager and young adult, I always looked forward to reading Chet Raymo’s column called “Science Musings” in The Boston Globe. Chet Raymo is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and a well-known science writer. His short essays are reflections on science, education, and the natural world.

One of these essays, from the mid-1990s, made such an impression on me that I clipped it out and filed it in my “Science Education” folder, where I keep articles related to science and teaching. The essay is titled “Teaching a Sense of Wonder.” Here, Raymo makes a plea to 6th-grade science teachers, asking them not to emphasize terms and facts, but instead to stand back and think about what every middle school student should learn in a science class.

He boils it down to five important concepts, one of which is the history of life on Earth.

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Get a Backbone

by James Morris
Illustrations by Talia Niederman

What’s a vertebrate? That’s easy – A vertebrate is an animal with a backbone.Hagfish

Not so fast. It turns out that not all vertebrates have a backbone. That is, they don’t have the bones that make up the backbone, called vertebrae. Hagfish, for example, don’t have vertebrae, but are classified as vertebrates.

That doesn’t make sense. How can a vertebrate not have vertebrae? Continue reading