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Pollen | NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

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Charles Darwin Predicted it; 130 Years Later, Lutz Wasserthal Proved It!

  • Junior Library Guild selection
  • Starred Kirkus Review
  • 2020 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book
  • Eureka! NonFiction Honor Book (California Reading Assn.)

“POLLEN is extraordinary! What a great story that encapsulates so many important concepts in science - pollination, structure and function of living things, and how scientific discoveries take time. It is so well written and will make a wonderful read-aloud.” Emily Morgan, co-author of Picture Perfect Science

Elementary Science – POLLEN

How long does it take for science to find an answer to a problem?

On January 25, 1862, naturalist Charles Darwin received a box of orchids. One flower, the Madagascar star orchid, fascinated him. It had an 11.5” nectary, the place where flowers make nectar, the sweet liquid that insects and birds eat. How, he wondered, did insects pollinate the orchid? It took 130 years to find the answer.

After experiments, he made a prediction. There must be a giant moth with a 11.5” proboscis, a straw-like tongue. Darwin died without ever seeing the moth, which was catalogued by entomologists in in 1903. But still no one had actually observed the Darwin hawk moth pollinating the orchid. In 1992, German entomologist, Lutz Thilo Wasserthal, Ph.D. traveled to Madagascar. By then, the moths were rare. He managed to capture two Darwin hawk moths and released them in a cage with the orchid. He captured the first photo of a Darwin hawk  moth pollinating the flower, as Darwin had predicted 130 years before.

Backmatter includes information on the moth, the orchid, Charles Darwin, Lutz Wasserthal. Also included is Wasserthal’s original photo taken in 1992.

MOMENTS IN SCIENCE SERIES - Read More

Moments in Science logo

This eight-book series of nonfiction STEM books highlights biographies of scientists and moments when science changes in some way: a discovery, a new understanding, a new photo, or a Nobel prize award. Scientist's biographies combine with an historical event, and they are wrapped up in clear, concise, and fun explanations of scientific principles. Come and have fun reading an excellent nonfiction picture books.

This series has received a starred review, two NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, Junior Library Guild selection, NSSTA Notable Social Studies Book, and the Eureka! NonFiction Honor award (CA Reading Assn.). See the entire MOMENTS IN SCIENCE series here.


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Gregory Morrow
A wonderful book (for all ages!)

Darcy Pattison and Peter Willis’s book “Pollen, Darwin’s 130-Year Prediction is a masterpiece! It’s a real story of history and science, beautifully illustrated and well written. The hawk moth is now my newest hero in nature!

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