Recently, I read a nytimes article about the modern-day struggles and strategies for teaching basic biology in high school and it got me thinking about my early education. I realized there was one piece of evidence that started me on evolution and common descent, one example that made the diversity and similarity of all life make so much sense that I was inspired to explore the theory further.
Whales. Prior to any understanding of the theory of evolution, whales made no sense to me whatsoever. Why would there be a creature of the sea that needed to breathe air to live? Why would such an animal exist while plenty of other sea creatures managed to "breathe" the water just fine? And why did whales flex their tail fins vertically rather than horizontally like fish?
Finally, in late elementary school, the answer was revealed. Whales evolved from air-breathing land animals, separate from the older phylogeny of fish, and their blow-holes and vertical tail flex are remnants of that more recent ancestry.
"AHA! So simple and elegant! It all makes sense!" I thought. And from there, my interest in biology bloomed, and I applied the theory to other examples, and I had new and ever more exciting "aha!" moments, and I'm happy to say that journey of discovery continues to this day.
So, did any of my readers have a similar "aha!" moment? Is there a particular example or set of evidences that sparked an interest in biology and personally sealed the deal in regards to the explanatory power of the theory of evolution?