Evolution of Feathers -- A National Geographic Magazine Text and Photograph Gallery

from February 2011 issue (traditional paper magazine and online version)


Text by Carl Zimmer and Photographs by Robert Clark

A fascinating article to read and beautiful photographs gallery to view.


Close-up photograph of a pheasant feather from Southeast Asia... by Robert Clark


This is a wonderful curriculum unit PBL and Discovery Learning Activites with student handout sheets to color, etc.

A great resource for teachers: evolution of feathers, structure and function of feathers, types of feathers, photographs of feathers, etc.

Did you know that birds use their feathers for at least 23 different life-serving functions?

This link by Professional Biologists makes a list for you and your students.

But first you should "Bird watch" = watch real birds in their habitats doing what they do ( and you could make your smart phone video documentary and/or watch birds on youtube videos etc........) and take notes... Be a Scientist...

Then Make a Class List... and then compare Your List with the Professional Biologists' List... :-)




And here is a link to "A Bird Watcher's View of the World: Outside My Window" Blog by Kate St. John


And here is a link to Google Images Search for "Bird Feathers " = Fantastic Photographs of Feathers Planet-wide...


To fly is to dream, for human beings.

Throughout our history, we as a people have created myths and gods and godesses and dreams of flight.

Pedestrian, we are upright as a species

and that has freed up our hands to become manipulators and makers of things.

Unique among the animals, we are "man-u-facturers"

crafts-men and crafts-women building a world of new structures called "civilization".

Our hands started counting and constructing things:

this is called Mathematics and Geometry.

But our hands cannot fly like birds with wings. (Except in poetry and arts :-)

Our skin grows hair and cuticles, not feathers and quills.

But with our minds we invent and engineer: gliders and airplanes and rockets and satellites.

"Man on the Moon" is real and Mars is accessible...

And from lenses, we have developed our sight to see atoms and galaxies.

We have learned the unique nature of feather's design and structure and function.

We have learned that Nature is its own engineer, and we are one species among thousands...

Observe a feather carefully and scientifically with a microscope

and you will see the invention of "velcro" and the beauty of "bio-luminescence".

Structure and Function: Analysis of a Whole and its Parts

and you will begin the Journey of Science and Life:

Questions will lead to more questions, and sometimes you will have to make art and music...

It is not an easy Journey, but "In dreams begin responsibilities."

So you want to fly...? Then become an Imagineer...




This is the 3-Page Pull-Out from the aforementioned National Geographic Magazine article "Evolution of Feathers" February 2011.

The original paper printed pages create a beautiful classroom and/or student poster (10" x 19") to add magic and science to any room...