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Evolution Trivia Quiz

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Learning to stand on your own two feet is good advice, no doubt, but they should mention that if you’re a primeval microorganism it will take you several billion years. And it isn’t surprising it should take so long. Getting to full bipedalism is a tough job when you haven’t even evolved your first multicellular structures, never mind legs.

Charles Darwin some years after the voyage of The Beagle

Charles Darwin in 1840, aged about 31
Portrait by George Richmond (view source image)

Despite the difficulties, some of those old-time microorganisms beat the odds and made it all the way. Some of them found ways to cooperate, to form communities, and to specialize. Some of those learned to eat and excrete, to reproduce sexually, to fight off infections, and to organize their bodies into complementary tissues. Some of those developed bones, organs, muscles and nervous systems. And at last, some of those grew legs and learned to get around on just two.

Some of them are penguins. Some of them are reading these words. All are late arrivals in a story that was already old when the continents formed. In this quiz we look at a few of its innumerable interesting episodes.

Evolutionary theory was formulated in the 1850s and 1860s by Charles Darwin, who was a couple of decades older when he published The Origin of Species than we see him in the portrait above. The century-and-a-half since that pivotal time have seen many refinements of the theory. Not every aspect of biological evolution is now thought of as “Darwinian”. Even so, nearly all the broad strokes of Darwin’s argument have survived the searching and sometimes hostile examination they have been subjected to ever since. At this point, it’s fair to say evolution is looking pretty solid.

So, settle back and...

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