Two female students observe an Orangutan through the glass at Melbourne Zoo.

Primate Evolution

Year levels

VCE

Cost

$19 per student

Availability

Monday to Friday (during school term)

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students

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

Program description

Through collection of observational data and analysis of fossils, anatomy and DNA, students will uncover human’s closest living and extinct relatives. Determining the evolutionary trends leading from primates to humans.  

Students will get hands on with primate biofacts obtained from the past and present to identify and analyse adaptations and determine the phylogeny of species. DNA sequence comparisons will be utilised to further analyse species relatedness and draw phylogenetic trees. Students will gather some evidence to support human evolution through behavioural observations and comparing with a range of primates.  

Students will learn: 

  • The anatomical and behavioural characteristics of primates, hominoids and hominins 
  • The processes that underpin speciation of primates and humans 
  • Construction and use of phylogenetic trees to identify relatedness of species 
  • How to collect and analyse behavioural observation data 

Program sequence

Before your visit

Connect   

Use the activities in the Teaching Guide (below) to inform and prepare students before their zoo visit. 

During your visit

Connect and Understand 

Students will draw on their analysis of anatomical, molecular and behavioural evidence, in combination with understanding of evolutionary processes. They will identify evolutionary trends, describe relatedness of species and build a phylogenetic tree to model human evolution. Data collected and provided can be used as part of the school based assessment. 

Your zoo visit will include:  Zoo Teacher workshop (85 minutes), fieldwork and observation opportunities and keeper talks. Check out your Teaching Guide for other ideas of what to do at the zoo. 

After your visit

Understand 

Use activities in the Teaching Guide to deepen students’ learning back at school. 

Act 

Use the Teaching Guide to enable students to master their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. 

Program resources

 

Primate Evolution Teaching Guide *coming soon*

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. This could include a raincoat, hat and sun protection. 

Bring what students need to record their research e.g. notes, drawings, photographs, videos, voice memos, diagrams.  

School groups will enter Melbourne Zoo via the Rail Gate entrance. Organising teachers please check in with our Admissions team upon arrival. More Information. 

All onsite excursion bookings are subject to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and as such are subject to change in line with the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s advice. We will be in contact with all teachers prior to their booked date if we need to clarify any new requirements. 

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