Human Origins
Homo habilis skull (cast)

Grade Level: Middle and High School
Next Generation Science Standards:


MS.Natural Selection and Adaptations

  • MS-LS4-1. Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
  • MS-LS4-2. Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
  • MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.

HS.Natural Selection and Evolution

  • HS-LS4-1. Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
  • HS-LS4-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
  • HS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
  • HS-LS4-5. Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.

Description: Using specimens from the Peabody Museum's Anthropology and Education collections, this program introduces the evidence that scientists use to understand the details of human evolution. The program provides an outstanding introduction to the way science works. Rather than viewing science as presenting established facts, we will explore what is known, what can be known, and why scientists are still looking for fossil fragments.

Photo/Image (left): A replica of the almost complete 1.6 million-year-old skeleton of a Homo erectus boy. Photograph by Terry Dagradi.


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