Nature’s Evolutionary Gems

A pdf Resource for Teachers wishing to spread Awareness of Evolution by Natural Selection


In this celebratory year of the Birth of Charles Darwin and the publication of his On the Origin of Species, it is fitting that the January 1 issue of the journal Nature announces a document “for teachers and others wishing to spread awareness of evolution by natural selection.”  The document is accessible at the link above, which forwards one to a seventeen page pdf file

The document includes student-friendly “editorial introductions” to 15 papers that have been published in Nature during the past decade.  These papers were selected “to illustrate the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking”, and cover natural selection from the perspectives of the Fossil Record, Habitats, and Molecular Processes.  The specific titles are given by clicking the more link at the end of this post. 

Each abstract is formatted to a single page, and is followed by a link to the orginal paper, links to additional resources (which may not be accessible), and a link to the website(s) of the author(s).  For those that don’t have a subscription to the journal, many of the links to abstracts of the original research papers provide access to the full text and a freely downloadable pdf .  Happy readings!

Nature, thanks for compiling this fitting and freely available educational resource!  It is a wonderful New Years Gift!

Gems from the Fossil Record
1. Land-Living Ancestors of Whales
2. From Water to Land
3. The Origin of Feathers
4. The Evolutionary History of Teeth
5. The Origin of the Vertebrate Skeleton

Gems from Habitats
6. Natural Selection in Speciation
7. Natural Selection in Lizards
8. A Case of Co-Evolution
9. Differential Dispersal in Wild Birds
10. Selective Survival in Wild Guppies
11. Evolutionary History Matters

Gems from Molecular Processes
12.  Darwin’s Galapagos Finches
13.  Microevoltion meets Macroevolution
14. Toxin Resistance in Snakes and Clams
15. Variation versus Stability

For more on Darwin at Nature.



Author: Eric Kessler

I am a high school biology teacher at Blue Valley North High School where I have taught freshman Biology and Honors Biology, Field Biology, Zoology, and AP Biology for the past 15 years. I am sponsor of the Environmental Club and our molecular modeling S.M.A.R.T. Team program. I am also the current treasurer of the Kansas Herpetological Society. Although I like most things biological, I have specific interests in the natural history of KS endemics (the outdoors) and things molecular. I am a pretty avid reader, I enjoy maintaining my website, and taking photographs. I plan on having students blogging and creating podcasts by the end of the year.

One thought on “Nature’s Evolutionary Gems”

  1. Eric, thanks for the site. I think I’ll have my AP students select an essay and write a short summary on it in our facebook site. All of which came from the KABT fall conference. Great Site! once again, Thanks. Pat

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