In organismic biology, the formation of ecological and evolutionary hypotheses on the basis of observable morphologies is a central element of research, and by extension of teaching and learning. Often it is necessary to take account of complex combinations of factors, some of which may be far from obvious. In the work described here, hypothesis formation and testing was exercised and studied in a learner-centered and object-based manner using an anachronistic, seemingly “nonsensical” plant, Maclura pomifera (Moraceae), in which the link between structure and function only becomes clear when considering past faunistic environments. The element of the unexpected and the allure of the large animals is thought to add to epistemic curiosity and student motivation to engage in the study of plants.
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Vol. 81 • No. 4