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Online Lessons for Teachers: Learning Evolution


How Did Humans Evolve?

View LESSON 5 Student Page

Activity 1: Fossil Finding

Activity 2: A Tree Full of Ancestors

Activity 2: Teacher Notes

Activity 1 Teacher Notes: Fossil Finding

The Riddle of the Bones Web activity introduces students to four important fossil finds -- the First Family, the Hadar Skull, Lucy, and the Laetoli Footprints. Using the the Web activity, students will learn how scientists interpret fossils to try to better understand how humans evolved. The activity guides students through Riddle of the Bones by using it as a basis for a team project.



Introduce or review what a fossil is.


Introduce or review how scientists use sediments above and below fossil finds to determine the age of the fossils. (If you want to review the fossil record with students, you may direct them to The Record of Time Web site.)


Introduce or review how scientists determine the age of fossil finds. For more information select "Learn More" on the When Did They Live? page in the Riddle of the Bones activity.

 Screen grab from the Web activity Riddle of the Bones.

Riddle of the Bones


Students may work alone on this activity, or you may want to use it as the basis for a team project. If so, divide the class into groups of four students each, and assign a specific fossil find (Lucy, Hadar Skull, Laetoli Footprints, First Family) to each group.


Assign students within each group to one of the four questions in the activity:


What is it?


When did it live?


What did it look like alive?


How did it move?

(You may wish to allow students to pick the question they prefer to answer. If you have additional students, you can have more than one group for some of the finds.)


Direct students to Riddle of the Bones.


When each group has finished answering all four questions, gather the groups together for a class discussion.


Allow each group to discuss their answers to the four questions.


Be sure that the students understand how different forms of fossil evidence are used to complete a whole picture of what an ancient human ancestor looked like and how he or she lived.


Ask students how our understanding of human evolution might change if new evidence is found. How might our picture of what an ancient human ancestor looks like be altered? How might the lifestyle of an ancient human ancestor be more fully understood?

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