The art of science and the science of art.

Are You A Mammal? Standardized Test


Hannah Bonner is an illustrator who is creating an empire of informative, entertaining kids' books about paleontology. They remind me of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole: real science conveyed with a wacky sense of humor. Take, for example, Bonner's "Are You A Mammal?" standardized test. It opens with the following instructions:

Instructions: If alive, complete whole test. If you are extinct, skip Part I since soft-tissue evidence doesn't fossilize well.

Did you laugh?! I did! Here's the test in context:

from Bonner's "When Dinos Dawned..."

from Bonner's "When Dinos Dawned..."

A two-page spread from Hannah Bonner's "When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight""

Bonner has three kids' books out for ages 8-12, all published by National Geographic:

When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, & Pterosaurs Took Flight;

When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm; and

When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth.

She also has a board game called Evolve or Perish! that you can download for free from the Smithsonian's webpage.


Every day in the month of September, we are serving up a different science artist for your viewing pleasure. Can’t get enough? Check out what was featured on this day last year: Blood of a Hero by Paolo Rivera.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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