In Year 12, Human Biology students are required to have an in depth understanding of the theory of evolution in relation to primates and humans. At school, they have explored the different areas of evidence and cross examined each aspect in order to equip them to be successful in their exams, but also to have a sound understanding of the different perspectives on this topic, both naturalist and creationist.
With that in mind, we set off for the Perth Zoo on a sunny August morning to escape the confines of the classroom, absorb some vitamin D, and learn more about the behaviour and anatomy of the primates.
In order to reach the primates we first had to traverse the African Savannah, quietly tiptoeing past the painted dog packs who were busy fighting over their breakfast, looking on in wonder at the local giraffe family, and being somewhat disgruntled that the meerkat enclosure was closed for maintenance. Eventually we made it to the primate corner where we came face to face with orangutans, lemurs, spider monkeys, emperor Tamarins, gibbons, and marmosets. It was an opportunity for students to observe and take notes on the differences and similarities between various primates, analysing their hand and foot structure, the way they hold onto objects, the shape of the cranium, the absence of a tail or the presence of ischial callosities (the red behind).
From there we were given a presentation by the Zoo’s educational team on past and present primates, students analysed different skulls and learnt about key characteristics that help identify different species within the primates. The presentation was directly tailored to the Year 12 course and provided an excellent overview of the content that students will encounter in their upcoming WACE exam.