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You, a plant, an insect, an elephant – all living things are made of the same stuff. All living things look different because they’ve gone through lots of small changes over millions and millions of years. This process is called evolution.

All living things have genes, which are like little sets of blueprints. Genes have information about the color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, and whether you hair is straight or curly. When living things make other living things, they pass copies of these blueprints to the offspring. The copies are mixtures. They’re never exact, never quite perfect. So, the cool thing is that no two sets of blueprints are exactly alike. So each living thing is different from other living things. Scientists know about evolution from fossils. Fossils show how living things used to look millions of years ago. Scientists take information from fossils to see how living things have changed over thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of years.

The Big Ideas

  • All living things are different from each other.
  • By passing along changes, living things can give their offspring advantages in surviving and reproducing.
  • Fossils show that living things have been changing for billions of years.

Did You Know That?

  • Scientists believe that birds evolved from ancient dinosaurs?
  • Plants in the desert evolved pointy spines as protection from animals?
  • Some lizards have developed the ability to re-grow their tails if they get pulled off?

Books of Science!

  • “Evolution” by Linda Gamlin. Published by Dorling Kindersley, 1993.
  • “The Young Scientist Book of Evolution” by Barbara Cork and Lynn Bresler. Published by Usborne Hayes, 1985.
Bill Nye