‘Dodos’ to flock to campus for Darwin Day

The Jayhawk mascot will have some competition Monday at Kansas University: A person dressed as a giant dodo bird will be roaming campus for part of the day.

It’s part of the festivities planned on campus for Darwin Day, a celebration of the Feb. 12, 1809, birthday of the man known as the father of evolution, Charles Darwin. Other KU events include a brown-bag discussion, a series of evolution-themed research displays and a screening of the film “Flock of Dodos,” which documents controversies in Kansas and Dover, Pa., about the teaching of evolution in public schools.

KU assistant research professor Steven Case, one of the event’s organizers, said the purpose isn’t to “deify” Darwin, but to do a better job of explaining science to the public in an accessible way. He’s grown tired of hearing statements by evolution’s critics that it’s a dying, irrelevant science.

“We’re kind of stepping up to the plate and illustrating that there are a lot of really interesting things going on. : We just need to do a better job talking to the public about what we know,” he said.

The following morning, a KU contingent will go to Topeka to speak before the Kansas State Board of Education, which will be considering reinstating science-teaching standards that support evolution.

Here are the events, all scheduled for Monday:

¢ Noon: Brown-Bag Seminar in the Pine Room of the Kansas Union by KU chemistry professor emeritus Richard Schowen: “Forms Most Beautiful: Ideas of Evolution at the Molecular Level.”

¢ 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: “Evolution and the Arts” exhibit on view in the Print Study Room on the third floor of the Spencer Museum of Art.

¢ 6 p.m.: A series of events begin at the Natural History Museum, including tours by docents and displays and presentations by 10 KU researchers.

¢ 7:30 p.m.: Costume contest at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union with a $100 prize for first place and $50 prize for second place in each of three categories: Darwin (at any age), “Muffy Moose” (a character in the “Flock of Dodos” film) and Dodos (authentic or animated).

¢ 7:45 p.m.: Screening of “Flock of Dodos” in Woodruff Auditorium. Tickets are $2 and are available at the Natural History Museum gift shop. The film, by former KU student Randy Olson, will be premiering Monday night in more than 30 cities across the country.