How 6-year-olds think about evolution…

Had an interesting conversation with Henry tonight. Can’t quite remember how we started – he was asking something to do with the Ice Age, or the Stone Age. Then he asked, “How did the first person get here?” Now, he’s seen plenty of nature shows; he’s heard of evolution; so I decided to ask him some questions to make him think, viz:

“How did the first cat/dog/cow/etc get here?” (Hmmm… not sure.)
“Is a zebra a horse?” (Yes. A white horse with black stripes.)
“Is a donkey a horse?” (No.)
“But donkeys are quite like horses, aren’t they? Slightly different.” (Hmmm… maybe they are related. Like cousins?)
“Do you still think a zebra is a horse?” (Hmmm… maybe they are cousins too.)
“What’s an example of a small dog?” (A chihuahua.)
“What’s an example of a large dog?” (A golden retriever.)
“How do you know they are both dogs? They are very different.” (They just are dogs.)
“But they look really different, don’t they? More different than a zebra and a horse.” (Hmmm.)
“Is a lion related to a horse?” (No. Hmmm… well, they both run fast. And they both have fur. Maybe they are distant cousins.) [Interesting that he chose “running fast” to be a familial trait.]
“Is a person related to a horse?” (No. Yes? Yes. Oh! People evolved from apes, I saw it in a nature show.)
“Do you know what extinct means?” (Yes. It means something that isn’t alive any more. There aren’t any left.)
“What is an example of an extinct animal?” (A dinosaur. But dinosaurs aren’t really extinct because they evolved into birds!)

At this point the conversation degenerated into a game of dinosaurs evolving into birds and flying around the couch with a blanket streaming behind…

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