Primate Evolution – a learning experience

Primate Evolution

Orana Wildlife Park bought a set of 16 replica primate and hominid skulls in 2012 with assistance from the Brian Mason Trust. This set was further expanded in 2013 through a second grant. The skulls are now being used by secondary school Biology students as tools in their study of primate characteristics and human evolution.

Although observing living primates is an engaging activity, many evolutionary features are hard to distinguish in living animals. Student learning is greatly enhanced by the opportunity to closely examine, handle, manipulate, measure, document and record skeletal features through firsthand experience. The primate skulls, when combined with observation of live examples, allows students to relate the anatomical features to observed behaviours. Following this students are better placed to extrapolate from hominid skulls to a living entity and extend their understanding of the otherwise abstract concept of human evolution.