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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

"Looking for some EnTErtainment? Play your way through the last 600 million years with Evolve or Perish, the new ETE board game!

Are you adaptable enough to survive all the way to the present?

Download the game below and find out. You will need:

1) A printer to print out the two pages of the game. Color is nice, if not you can print it in black and white (and maybe color it in yourself?).

2) Scissors to trim one of the pages along the dotted line, and tape or glue to join the two pages.

3) A die (that's the singular of dice, in case you didn't know).

4) Each player needs to choose some small object to use as a token. Anything will do (for instance a jack, a miniature plastic animal, a pebble, or a penny) as long as each player's is different so you will know who is who.

5) One or two fellow tetrapods to play with, preferably of the species Homo sapiens.

Evolve or Perish Rules

This is a board game developed by artist-illustrator Hannah Bonner and the ETE Program, Smithsonian Institution. The set-up is similar to Chutes and Ladders (in Europe Snakes and Ladders) - you use chips and a die to reach the finish. Evolve or Perish, however, also takes you through 630 million years of evolution from life in the sea to life on land. A glossary explains important events. Evolve or Perish can be played at two levels, beginner and advanced. Evolve or Perish is fun for children of all ages, although younger children will need help from adults.

Instructions for Beginner Level (2-4 players)
The board consists of a track with 63 spaces representing a total of 630 millions years. Each player starts with a chip in the starting square and takes turns to roll a single die to move the chip by the number of squares indicated by the die, following the route marked on the gameboard. Several squares take the player a fixed amount of years forward or backward in time. Some squares reward the player with an extra turn, such as during the development of early land plants and the first four-legged animal. There are also squares with unfortunate events that force the player to move backwards or lose one or more turns, the most recognizable being the Permian-Triassic extinction.

If a chip lands on an occupied square, the original occupant has to go back to the beginning. The winner is the player who first gets his/her chips into the final square. The player, however, must roll the exact number to reach the Present (last square). If the roll of the die is too large the chip proceeds to the final square, and then goes backwards until it has moved the same number of squares as the die shows.

Additional instructions for Advanced Level (2-3 players)
Each player starts with one plant (primary producers-green) and one animal (consumer-red) chip. With each role the die, a player can choose to move their plant chip or animal chip as they see fit. If your animal chip lands on a square occupied by a plant, the plant has to go back to the beginning of the era it is in. If there is more than one plant on the square, they are all protected and don't have to go back (plants have safety in numbers). The winner is the player who first gets both of his/her chips into the final square.

A pdf downloadable version of the game can be found by clicking on this link:

Evolve or Perish - English Version (Color)

Evolve or Perish - English Version (Black and White)

A pdf downloadable version of the rules in English can be found by clicking on this link:

Evolve or Perish - Rules

Evolve or Perish is available in multiple languages including Italian, Spanish, and Catalan.

Evolvi-o-Scompari - Italian version

Evolve or Perish - Spanish and Catalán versions

Additional Information

For those interested in learning more about the organisms pictured in the game Evolve or Perish, a complete list of taxa organized by time periods can be found here.

Created by Hannah Bonner, Cindy Looy, Ivo Duijnstee and other members of the ETE Program of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Insitution.

For educational use only, courtesy of the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Program, Smithsonian Institution

Additional information about Hannah Bonner's books and artwork can be found here

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