Hey everyone, Matt Cubberly here!

I'm an evolutionary ecologist and children's book author, as well as a HUGE supporter of education - but more importantly, a believer in exciting and fun education so kids actually want to learn new topics. And so I combine what I know into wildly-fun and educational kid's books!

You may remember me (or not!) from my post on /r/Pics earlier this year.

Besides being told that I looked like some super cool European soccer player (can't remember his name, but that's always nice to hear) and my tiny website being destroyed by the ol' Reddit hug of death, that thread also turned into a great AMA organically and I had a blast talking with everyone and answering all sorts of questions. I've gotten a few requests to host an actual AMA throughout the past year, and my second book is now live, so what better time than now!

My second title, Evolutionary Tales, is a children's book that teaches kids the idea of evolution through 10 poems focusing on the wildest-evolved creatures of our world! Some of the creatures you'll come across in the book will be the toothy Anglerfish, the acid-spraying Bombardier Beetle, and the wide-eyed Tarsier! The book is made as a sort of introduction to the idea of evolution, that'll get kids hooked on the subject very early on.

So definitely ask me anything you'd like about the book-creation process, writing, education, campaign management, or anything else! Thanks so much for having me and I can't wait to talk to you all!

And of course, if you'd like to support the project, support wild and fun education, and snag yourself a copy of the book, you can do so here:


A huge portion of the backers already on board are Redditors, so a huge thanks to them again!

Proof Proof!

EDIT: As a side note, I'm also one of the founders of the table-top game company, GrubTon Games. So if any of you supported our game, A Chaotic Life a few months ago, hello again!

EDIT #2: Alright everyone, it's been 11 hours and I've had a blast talking with you all! Gotta call it quits now! Thanks so much for the great questions and of course for the support for Evolutionary Tales! Until next time! Cya!

Comments: 76 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

JITTERdUdE3 karma

Are you interested in writing solely children's books, or do you intend to branch out into teen and adult based writing?

Alongside that, are you working on another book at this point/have an idea for a new one?

MCubb3 karma

Oh I definitely write just about everything! Children's books are easier to get a following with, as they can basically be seen as a short film as opposed to a feature film - quickly consumable. But I've also written parts of a few novels, as well as a few short and feature screenplays - almost entirely drama, thriller, or family for those. But of course just family for the children's books! Other than those, I also have a handful of darker / more serious poems that I'll eventually compile into an adult poetry book.

As for other children's book, yes! Always more projects in the hopper, haha. I have one just about finished, and a few more spread across different stages of completion. I like to always be working on something!

JITTERdUdE1 karma

As someone who is looking to become a writer, that sounds awesome! Thanks for the answer!

MCubb2 karma

For sure! And thank you - I love talking about it!

RoadRacoon2 karma

Do your books address the creation vs. evolution debate? Also, do you address the difference between the scientific definition of theory and the colloquial definition of theory?

MCubb4 karma

Evolutionary Tales doesn't address the debate, as I preferred to keep the book solely about learning science.

As for "theory", it's a shame that the same word is used in both instances, really. As it's an easy out for people looking to find a flaw in evolution when it really isn't, "just a theory". As for addressing it, it does in a simplified way - comparing it to the fact that gravity is also a scientific theory!

aontroim2 karma

When do you think we will start evolving super powers a la comic books as scientists have predicted?

MCubb7 karma

Haha, I'd hope very soon!

aontroim3 karma

A serious one this time then lol Why do you believe it is important for children to be aware of concepts such as evolution from an early age?

MCubb8 karma

I see the importance of early introduction of all sorts of topics - evolution being just one! If you give a kid a book about some complicated topic - say evolution - when they're as young as possible, that'll foster a fascination and early understanding of the subject and give that child a head start of however many years between when they read it and when the topic is generally introduced in school, usually high school.

Now as for evolution specifically, I see it as a topic that really branches out into many other important realms. By learning about where we came from and how, we're able to extrapolate that and look at how we affect the world around us. There's been some really amazing forced evolution of animals by humans, so it brings into play anthropocentric lessons as well!

suckbothmydicks1 karma

I taught my son about negative numbers when he was four or five. He understood immediately. And he will never have problems with that particular subject because he learned it early on.

MCubb1 karma

Aha that's awesome! He's going to be so ahead of the class when they get to that part!

suckbothmydicks0 karma

First of all, he is not going to be confused over something that simple.

MCubb0 karma

Glad to hear it!

Chikandesu2 karma

What is the hardest part of getting published?

MCubb2 karma

Both writing the book and finding an amazing illustrator to pull it all together to create a title people will actually want to read! There are lots of corners that are cut-able, but ultimately result in a bad book.

The_Withheld_Name1 karma

What age group are you going for? I've seen Richard Dawkins talk about 12 or something being the right age to learn the basics of evolution. I don't have a lot of experience with kids & figuring out how intelligent they are at various ages. What do you think?

MCubb2 karma

I agree that about 10-12 is the best age to start hitting them with the way it all works. Evolutionary Tales is a mix of that and a bit of just a simple introduction that these kinds of processes can and have taken place. One of my backers have said they see it a bit like taking your child to the zoo when he's young. He may not recognize each animal and what they're all about, but just exposing them to that sort of this fosters interest in it. And then they can graduate from that material into more complex material as soon as they're able.

The_Withheld_Name1 karma

Visiting Fernbank Museum in Atlanta had a far greater impact on me than any zoo as child. A zoo is a prison. A good museum however is science presented with aesthetic quality that draws people in. Are you sharing any images from Evolutionary Tales?

MCubb1 karma

Agreed. I've also always favored museums! As for images, do you mean some of the illustrations? If so, the links in the original post show them.

The_Withheld_Name1 karma

Excellent; looks good. Tarsiers are wonderful creatures! I wonder if kids would benefit from knowing stuff about evolution earlier than 10. I guess it depends on the kid: if they ask a question, I would want to answer it, rather than say they're not old enough to know. I can't think of something that someone could be old enough to wonder about but not old enough to know the answer to.

MCubb1 karma

Ah, completely agree! I've always asked LOADS of questions (probably to my teachers' annoyance), but they've always answered! And Tarsiers are just great!

The_Withheld_Name1 karma

I asked a science teacher when I was about 14 or so how we could know anything was true & she sent me into the hallway & then got in my face & fussed at me for trying to be funny. The truth is that I was asking a genuine question that I didn't have answered for many years.

MCubb1 karma

Yikes, not the right way to teach a student.

Romeoooow1 karma

Is this just a side gig for you, or do you have an actual career in evolutionary biology as well?

MCubb1 karma

I've decided to focus on education for the time being, so not just a side gig! While it's of course important to get out there and conduct research, I definitely believe it's also very important to create a whole new generation of future scientists - gotta start 'em young!

DoubleTheLincoln1 karma

Have you encountered sizable backlash from teachers, parents, etc.? If so, how did you respond and (hopefully) overcome their objections?

MCubb4 karma

Surprisingly, I actually haven't gotten much backlash. I've had a few disappointing responses from the religious community, but that's to be expected. And a few parents and teachers have been concerned with how scary the book may be, but of course if you take a look at the scariest animal in the book, the anglefish, she's much more dopey than scary!

GreenEskimo1 karma

Do you have a fun fact about evolution?

MCubb0 karma

All evolution facts are fun!

But a specific one? Definitely the Archaeopteryx! Give him a look online - truly amazing. Basically the bridge between dinosaur and bird!

honkimon1 karma

Hi Matt,

Thanks for taking time out of your day to interact with reddit! Have you heard of the stoned ape theory by Terence Mckenna? If so, what are your thoughts?

MCubb1 karma

No problem, glad to be here! Although I'm always on Reddit, haha!

I have heard about the Stoned Ape Theory and I've looked into it a bit. While it does make for an amazing theory and story, it's always sounded like it doesn't have too much support and a lot of assumptions have been made by the support it does have. But keep in mind I have little experience with it other than reading a bit about it, so that's just my takeaway! Although it would be remarkable if something as simple as a mushroom could lead to such a wild evolutionary occurrence like speech, religion, music, etc. as claimed

jamiehlake1 karma

Are you ever afraid? Or do you ever worry what will happen to you when you die? Especially if what the Bible teaches is true? (it would be better for any man to tie a weight to his ankle and jump into the ocean than to deceive one of God's children)

MCubb4 karma

Nope, I've never really been afraid of what will happen after I die. In my opinion, life's just too full of amazing things to do to waste time worrying about what happens after.

Also, I'm not familiar with that line from the Bible, but after reading it, it seems exceptionally dark, so it's certainly not something I'd choose to surround myself with or follow.

Great question though, thanks!

mtome1 karma

When do you think evolution will become an accepted idea among religious people in America?

MCubb1 karma

I really don't think it ever will - for these generations of religious people. As new generations are born and raised with religion, I think they'll slowly but surely become more open, accepting, and new-age religious. And hopefully then they'll allow themselves to learn about evolution. But as for the generations alive now, I doubt they'll ever accept it. Disappointing, I know, but sometimes you've just got to wait it out and change the minds of the few you can! Little by little!

bozobozo1 karma

What is your favorite dinosaur?

If they didn't go extinct, what would dinosaurs look like today?

Also, thanks for the books.

MCubb3 karma


I'm not sure what dinosaurs would look like today - no doubt the entire ecology of the world would be vastly different if dinosaurs remained at the top of the food chain / massive herbivore biomass.

And thank you!

Q-_Q1 karma

Do you think Dollos law of irreversibility is disproven by the average intelligence of an internet-user?

MCubb3 karma

Bahaha, legitimately made me laugh. And I'd say the average Youtube comment is solid evidence to disprove Dollo's Law.

Alltruenews1 karma

Thank you for what you do!

Do you have friends that deny biological evolution?

MCubb2 karma

Nope! Most of my friends I met in college, and so they were in similar majors to mine. Mostly all biology, chemistry, and physics majors, so definitely science guys too!

westham221 karma

I am interested in going to college for ecology/botany next year. Can you suggest any books that I should pick up? How competitive is the job market? What is your favorite part of the job? Several people have tried to talk me out of the botany field and into biological engineering but don't have any solid reasons as to why, care to weigh in?

MCubb3 karma

I'm a huge fan of botany! All of my past roommates grew to expect me to bring some new plant home each week. And to be perfectly honest, junior year of college... I grew tomatoes under my bed in my apartment. I'm completely serious, I was THAT guy, haha! Micro Tom tomatoes, very small, did very well, experimented on them a bit too!

So of course I'd say go for it on the botany front! As for books, I can't really make much of a suggestion, sorry! The job market is growing from what I've seen. Even if you're not going into a research career, there's a huge array of jobs in every sector. As companies continue to vie for good points in the public's eye, they look to reducing their footprint, running cleaner, affecting less, etc. And so they hire all sorts of ecologists to get their companies in line so they can claim all sorts of things.

So all in all, I'd so go for it. And the adventure of where the field takes you is reason enough, haha. If you like that sort of thing of course - I sure do!

westham221 karma

Hahaha, that is awesome. Thank you! I actually had a herb/veggie garden going until my roommates dog found his way into my room. That is what I had read, lots of people finding work in environmental consulting.

MCubb2 karma

Freshman year I actually had to warn my RA that if he checks in on my room during break (which they do to make sure lights are off and windows closed for the month we're gone) that he'd find a massive tub of water in the middle of the room with a bunch of plants sitting in it. Had to keep them alive somehow for 4 weeks, and it worked! Didn't grow any mold either. Ah the things we do for our interests!

Best of luck to you!

cheejudo1 karma

Why haven't more species evolved to be asexual? (or able to reproduce with one's self - not sure of the term)

MCubb5 karma

It's all about genetic diversity! If everyone reproduces asexually, genetic diversity drops hard. And when a disease comes along it sweeps through very easily and every dies out.

By reproducing with another individual, you increase genetic diversity, so when something big does happen, there'll be individuals with ways to cope and change, so the species lives on.

chepopeye1 karma

Do you believe that there is actually Something/Someone that created the Universe and made it so that it could evolve? Why/Why not?

Sorry to have taken your time and for my bad english

And thank you in advance

MCubb1 karma

Nope, I don't believe that there's something or someone who created everything. As for why, it's simply because I've never seen any evidence to support that claim.

An no problem at all, and perfect English!

cormacwanderers1 karma

Do you get annoyed at the fact (Here in Ireland anyways.) that in religious schools (About every school in Ireland.) kids aren't thought about evolution until they have to do it for state examinations?

MCubb5 karma

I actually don't have much experience with religious schools, but solely as a scientist, it's definitely disappointing - especially if most of your schools are religious, as there won't be much of a choice for anyone!

dukofdeath1 karma

Would you mind sharing one of the more asinine or vitrious responses you've received about your book? As a public school teacher, I know that there are parents that do not appreciate the ecology unit: prey and predation and the evolutionary arms race to try to keep one a step ahead of another...

MCubb5 karma

To be honest, the worst responses I've gotten about Evolutionary Tales haven't been all that harsh, haha! I've gotten the usual, "Don't push this kind of nonsense on kids" and, "why waste your time with this garbage?!" But as of yet, I haven't gotten too raged at, haha. But then again, I also haven't ventured into any super religious forums or the like!

And as for just the "violence" of predation and natural selection, the most I've heard are a few parents who say it'd be too scary for their kids. But as you can see, I intentionally kept it light in the book - the super scary angler fish appears much more dopey in Evolutionary Tales. I definitely don't want to scare off any would-be young scientists!

dukofdeath2 karma

My wife and I are starting a book list of scientifically progressive children's books (to include yours). These are books we'll buy for our own children when we have some.

MCubb1 karma

Sounds great! I've actually gotten a few messages from backers who were stocking their bookshelves for their future kids. Really cool!

neverlandishome1 karma

How did you first get into evolutionary ecology?

MCubb1 karma

I actually went into college thinking of going pre-med. I realized very quickly that I don't have the stomach for it. I've always loved animals, having a garden, and exploring the wilderness, so ecology and evolutionary biology fit right in - and CU Boulder was such a great school to be at for that major!

okeysiri1291 karma

why do you think the idea of evolution is so important?

MCubb1 karma

Pasted a reply from the same question above:

I see the importance of early introduction of all sorts of topics - evolution being just one! If you give a kid a book about some complicated topic - say evolution - when they're as young as possible, that'll foster a fascination and early understanding of the subject and give that child a head start of however many years between when they read it and when the topic is generally introduced in school, usually high school. Now as for evolution specifically, I see it as a topic that really branches out into many other important realms. By learning about where we came from and how, we're able to extrapolate that and look at how we affect the world around us. There's been some really amazing forced evolution of animals by humans, so it brings into play anthropocentric lessons as well!

motownmods1 karma

I find the lack of career guidance in schools today appalling. In my opinion, discovering what a kid wants to do when they grow up is one of the most important tasks, if not the most important, and therefore deserves years service.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think they should know specifically what title they hope to achieve but what area.

Do you think any games could be developed to help kids understand this concept? That is, make them understand what general routes they should consider.

MCubb4 karma

I completely agree with all of this. Far to many people end up "lost" after the graduate. As for games to help show kids the paths and possibilities, there's no doubt in my mind that it's possible. The difficult part would be making it fun enough to warrant a play through!

hmmpepsi-8 karma

Have you ever studied fractal geometry in nature and see the patterns that denote order and intelligence and see the hand of God in all things?

MCubb5 karma

I have not, but I have seen the great pics of cauliflower!