It's All in Your Head: An Investigation of Human Ancestry (Grades 9-12)

Author/Source: ENSI (via Understanding Evolution)

Overview: Students describe, measure and compare cranial casts from contemporary apes, modern humans, and fossil hominids to discover some of the similarities and differences between these forms and to see the pattern leading to modern humans.

Concepts: This lesson covers the following concepts:

  • All organisms, including humans, retain evidence of their evolutionary history.
  • The fossil record contains transitional forms.
  • Anatomical similarities of living things reflect common ancestry.
  • Scientists pose, test, and revise multiple hypotheses to explain what they observe.
  • Scientific ideas are developed through reasoning.
  • Scientists use the similarity of DNA nucleotide sequences to infer the relatedness of taxa.
  • Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.
Grade Level: 9-12

Time: One to two class periods

Teaching Tips: Casts of skulls are necessary; however, the lesson also provides a collection of hominoid photos to accomodate a greater number of measurements. The author provides an excellent list of discussion questions.