Monday, January 3, 2011
Preserved in Amber
I started teaching middle school science just after Jurassic Park was released in 1993, and I bought my first pair of amber earrings at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History the next spring. Dinosaur DNA provided a great hook for my students; I search for earrings that contain the wings or legs of insects to wear when talking about fossils and evolution.
Today I am heading to DC to visit the museum again, this time to see the display about the evolution of the horse, in preparation for my school's cultural study of Spain this spring. The Spanish reintroduced horses to the Americas in the 1500's. But those horses are descendants of equines that evolved on this continent during a time that horses became extinct in the Old World. Our horses migrated back across the Bering land bridge to repopulate Asia and Europe. I love the opportunity to explore the themes of immigration, evolution, and climate change with children.