Village Voices Nature Note: Back to School?

01 Nov 2021
How much do young people know about nature? Do they ever look up from their phones for long enough to actually see anything? We may be about to find out since there are plans to introduce a new GCSE in Natural History and the Cambridge University Exams Board is right now working out a curriculum. As a taster, they sent round these sample questions below.

1. Grampy pig, hardback and curly bug are all common names for a:
(a) earwig; (b) woodlouse; (c) centipede?

2. Muntjac deer are the size of a:
(a) domestic cat; (b) large dog; (c) cow?

3.Is a slow worm a:
(a) worm; (b) snake; (c) lizard?

4. Horseshoe, pipistrelle and bechstein are all UK species of:
(a) bat; (b) deer; (c) orchid?

5. Which of the following is a visitor to the UK (ie, not resident):
(a) little tern; (b) song thrush; (c) wren?

6. Dead man’s finger (Xylaria polymorpha) is common in woodlands. Is it a:
(a) fruit; (b) fungus; (c) flowering plant?

7. A glow-worm is:
(a) a beetle that can chemically produce light; (b) a worm with a glowing tail; (c) a beetle that rubs its wings together to produce sparks?

8. You are walking in the countryside and find a deep 15cm conical hole with foul-smelling liquid poo in the bottom. Is it:
(a) a rabbit toilet; (b) a badger latrine; (c) fox poo?

9. How many eggs do long-tailed tits lay:
(a) 5-8; (b) 8-15; (c) 16-20?

10. Which of the following species is native to the UK?
(a) sycamore tree; (b) brown hare; (c) wildcat

11. How do mussels attach to rocks:
(a) with strong, sticky threads; (b) clamp on with their muscles; (c) small tube feet?

12. The turtle dove has declined by over 90% since the 1970s. The main reason is:
(a) hunting by humans; (b) predation from other animals; (c) loss of habitat?

13. Is a brown argus:
(a) a butterfly; (b) a moth; (c) a dragonfly?

14. How fast does a gannet hit the surface of the sea when diving for
(a) 20mph; (b) 60mph; (c) 100mph?

15. How many different species of beetle are there in the UK:
(a) 150; (b) 1,300; (c) 4,200?

I reckon some of these are quite difficult, so top of the class if you got twelve or more right. But if it was under five, now’s your chance to add another qualification to your cv. Never too late. Answers below: Don’t cheat!

Answers: 1b, 2b, 3c, 4a, 5a, 6b, 7a, 8b, 9b, 10c, 11a, 12c, 13a, 14b, 15c
Jeremy Mynott