Tag Archives: primates

The Science of Human Evolution


Video Source (YouTube, 54.42 min)

  1. What vestigial organ, a remnant from our primate ancestors, is apparent in humans?
  2. Which species does the video refer to as our “distant cousins”?
  3. Name three characteristics that we share with these monkeys.
  4. Notharctus tenebrosus is a fossil that scientists believe to be a common ancestor of humans – how old is this fossil?
  5. What feature of this fossil’s hand is important for climbing and gripping objects?
  6. How was colour vision an important evolutionary advantage in early primates?
  7. What genetic mutation occurred to allow primates to see in colour like humans?
  8. What sense diminished as humans evolved high-colour vision? What evidence is there for this?
  9. ‘Lucy’ is a 3.2 million year old fossil from Ethiopia – why is this fossil significant?
  10. What advantages does this particular characteristic give the species?
  11. What disadvantages does bipedalism have for modern humans?
  12. What characteristic of stone-age man is an indication that human ancestors had the ability for complex thought, together with highly developed hand-eye co-ordination?
  13. In what test do 3 month old monkeys out-perform human babies?
  14. What fundamental brain architecture do all vertebrates, including sharks and humans, share?

11: Behavioural Adaptations for Survival


Link for our Elluminate session (Friday 22nd July, periods 1 and 2): https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2007026&password=M.8E3BE08DC2C05955C950883EC4C9AB
Learning Intention: For students to be able to understand what behavioural adaptations are, how they can assist the survival of different species and to be able to identify different types of behavioural adaptations.

Success Criteria: You will be able to identify several examples of innate and learned animal behaviours and describe how they assist each organism to survive in their environment.

Any actions that an animal takes to assist it’s survival – feeding, mating, hibernating, migrating, nesting, fighting for territory or resting in shade – are behavioral adaptations that have evolved over generations. Some behaviors are ‘innate’ or instinctive and occur in all animals of the same species, even if they are isolated from their parents and siblings. These behaviors are genetically programmed, while others are learned behaviors. Learned behaviors require an organism to observe the behavior.

An example of insect behaviour is the “waggle dance” that directs bees to sources of food – read more about it at NOVA. For more examples of animal and plant adaptations, check out this Scoop.it magazine I created, with some interesting articles. From D’Anne Witkowski’s blog – “Unique among primates, gelada males have a patch of bare skin on their chest that changes in color according to status. Beehner believes that this relationship (between color and status) might be linked by testosterone. As testosterone levels rise, male chests change from pale pink to bright red. Simply put, this chest patch could be a signal to other males, a way for males to decide whether they want to pick a fight with a high-testosterone rival or not.”


This Creative Commons Image from Wikimedia