Fun facts

15 fun facts about evolution for kids

Did you know that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution caused quite a stir in the 19th century? At the time, many still believed the world and everything in it was created all at once. In On the Origin of Species, Sabina Radeva has retold Darwin’s original work along with her own beautiful illustrations. Here are a few of our favourite facts about evolution.

Puffin team
An illustration of Charles Darwin sitting at a table surrounded by plants and birds
Illustration: Sabina Radeva | On the Origin of Species

1. It took Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, 20 years to write and publish his original book On the Origin of Species that explained the process of evolution.

2. No two animals are the same, even if they belong to the same species.

3. There are over 340 breeds of dog, yet they all come from one kind of wild wolf that existed many years ago.

4. Humans share the same five-fingered bone structure in their hands with lots of other animals that have paws, wings or flippers, such as lemurs and bats.

An illustration of the similar hand bone structure in humans, lemurs and frogs
Illustration: Sabina Radeva | On the Origin of Species

5. Many of the pets, farm animals and garden flowers we see today are the result of human choice. For example, farmers would have chosen to breed the chickens that lay the best eggs, and gardeners would have encouraged the most beautiful plants to grow.

6. The slightest difference in colour or design can help an animal or plant live, survive and reproduce better in the wild. This is known as natural selection.

7. Instinct is another important part of natural selection. For example, most birds know they must travel to warmer places to survive during winter.

An illustration of a group of wild horses running together
Illustration: Sabina Radeva | On the Origin of Species

8. If animals and plants did not compete to survive, the earth would be covered by the offspring of a single pair.

9. Little changes within one species can add up and create a whole new species.

10. But often these changes happen over thousands of years. So, it’s hard to see evolution happening with our own eyes.

An illustration of different fossils and bones from extinct species such as the mammoth and dodo bird
Illustration: Sabina Radeva | On the Origin of Species

11. Fossils are evidence of extinct species. However, perfect conditions are needed for fossils to form.

12. We are able to see from fossils that dinosaurs, woolly mammoths and dodos lived many years ago. But we’ll never really know all of the weird and wonderful species that previously existed!

An illustration of a dolphin swimming in the ocean
Illustration: Sabina Radeva | On the Origin of Species

13. Although they both live underwater, dolphins evolved from mammals whereas sharks evolved from fish ancestors.

14. Humans, animals, plants, insects and even bacteria, all descend from the first living things that ever came to be.

15. At one point in time, whales walked on land! 

Sign up to the Puffin newsletter

Stories, ideas and giveaways to help you spark young imaginations