Two white cheeked gibbons holding on to rope in their enclosure. A dark coloured gibbon is grooming the light coloured one.

Primate Evolution

Year levels



$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during the school term) | Available from Febraury 2020

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students

Analyse and compare living primates with fossils, bones, bio facts and DNA to uncover human’s closest living and extinct relatives to reveal the evolutionary trends leading from primates to humans and what it means to be classified as Homo sapiens.

Program Description

Primate Evolution allows VCE Biology students to put their understanding to the test: get hands-on with primate fossils, anatomy and DNA, identify and analyse adaptations and determine the phylogeny of species. This practical program allows students to connect the dots between anatomical, molecular and behavioural evidence to demonstrate and enhance their understanding of evolutionary processes. Data collected and provided can be used as part of the school based assessment.

Students will learn:

  • The anatomical and behavioural characteristics of primates, hominoids and hominins
  • To understand the processes that underpin speciation of primates and humans
  • How to construct and use phylogenetic trees to identify relatedness of species
  • How to collect and analyse behavioural observation data
Activity Duration
Workshop with Melbourne Zoo teacher – a Zoo educator will explore adaptations and phylogeny of species and compare DNA sequences
50 minutes
Primate behaviour observation and data collection with Melbourne Zoo teacher 40 minutes
Student-led inquiry – an opportunity for students to do additional animal, independently of Zoo educators Flexible
Explore the Zoo – visit animal exhibits, attend educational keeper talks  1 - 2 hours

Learning outcomes

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) - Biology

Unit 4: How does life change and respond to challenges over time?


Area of study 1: How are species related?

  • Students will use comparative anatomy, behaviour observations and DNA of living and once living primates to explore changes in the genetic make-up of a population, changes in biodiversity over time, determine relatedness between species and human change over time

Area of study 3: Practical investigation

  • Students will carry out behavioural observations and compare primary and secondary data to understand the trends in primate and human change over time that can be used as part of the school based assessment


Plan your excursion 

Primate Evolution is an outdoor all-weather program; the students will need appropriate clothing for weather conditions. Students will need a copy of the student workbook, clipboard and a pen. Teachers will need a copy of the teacher workbook. Student electronic devices are encouraged.

School groups will enter via Rail Gate. The organising teacher must present their booking confirmation to Admission staff prior to students and remaining teachers entering the Zoo. More information

Book your excursion

Call (03) 9340 2788

You will need the following to book your excursion:

  • Education program of your choice
  • Preferred excursion date
  • School name and address
  • Contact details of organising teacher
  • Number of students/classes and their year level