Remind students that according to Darwin’s theory, all species evolved from a common ancestor, even further back than the earliest primate 55 million years ago. Reveal the top half of “A timeline of life on earth” to show that before primates, our family tree included early mammals, reptiles, even fish and worms!
How can we tell? Just as we can observe similar traits among humans and primate ancestors, we can perceive shared traits with other species. In pairs or small groups have students log on to The Zoo of You. Have students click through the interactive and ask them to make a note of any “Oops” characteristics. Give students 10 – 15 minutes to complete the interactive. Ask students if they found anything particularly surprising or interesting.
Return to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, where beneficial variants allow individuals to survive and reproduce. Ask students how they think the “oops” characteristics fit into this theory? Why have our modern human bodies evolved to include them?
Key Words:evolution; Charles Darwin; Homo sapiens; hominid; human evolution; natural selection
Lesson Plan Annotation: In this lesson, using segments from the PBS series The Human Spark, students will be introduced to Darwin’s theory of evolution and how it applies to human development throughout earth’s history.