Author: Sharon Janulaw
Overview: In this lesson the teacher describes horse evolution using illustrations of horse ancestors and modern horses.
Grade Span: K2
Read some information about horse evolution so you can tell a reasonable story.
Prepare illustrations of horse ancestors and modern horses.
Time: 30 minutes
Grouping: Whole class
Horses evolved from small browsing animals, with four toes on each front foot and three on the rear, to the modern horse (including horses, donkeys and zebras), which are grazing animals with one toe on each foot. Characteristics, such as single toes, larger size, and modified teeth are all apparently adaptations to running fast on grassy plains and eating grasses instead of browsing on shrubs. This url, chem.tufts.edu/science/evolution/HorseEvolution.htm, gives an excellent account of up-to-date information about horse evolution. Note that examples of horse ancestors in textbooks are not necessarily in the direct line that led to modern horses. Some are cousins of horse ancestors. Nevertheless, these fossils illustrate transitional forms that can reasonably represent the actual horse lineage.
Useful for illustrations of horses: members.tripod.com/cavanaughc/id94.htm
Information about horse evolution: chem.tufts.edu/science/evolution/HorseEvolution.htm
Children will not grasp the vast expanses of time required for the story you tell them, but they can get the idea that types living things can change over time. The idea is that horses ancestors did not look or act exactly the way horses do today.
Vocabulary: browsing, grazing, hoof
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