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In this lesson students will explore some of the evolutionary changes that have occurred within the primates: monkeys, apes, and man. They will consider some evidence within the fields of comparative biochemistry and comparative anatomy. They will also explore Charles Darwin, the real person as well as the scientist. Approximate time: at least 2-3 class periods.
ITV Series
ORGANIC EVOLUTION: Program 1: In the Beginning", and "Program 2: Darwin, Naturally"
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Per student:
Per Student Group:
Pre-Viewing Activities

Divide students into groups of four. Working relationships should include a chief investigator, a graphics expert, a researcher and an analysis expert.

Introduce this topic by handing out Darwin's picture to each student in the group. Do not tell them who the man is at this time. Allow them five minutes to analyze the picture and record a list of personality/behavioral traits that they infer from the picture. Have the analysis expert post results on newsprint and tape on the wall or blackboard. Identify the picture and pass out Darwin's notes on marriage to each student. Again, allow five to seven minutes for students to add to their original list of traits through addition or deletion of what they originally recorded. Finally, have each student write down their definition of evolution. These definitions are to be kept by the chief investigator.

Explain to the students that they will be investigating some old and some new support for Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Not a bad idea to talk about how cooperative and collaborative learning needs full participation by all members.
Focus Viewing
To successfully gain understanding of evolution as a central, unifying role in nature, and therefore in biology, it is important to view evolution from an historical and Darwinian view. The Organic Evolution series from TVOntario allows visualization of both these perspectives. The first program will give review components in taxonomy, microscopy, convergent and divergent evolution as well as acquired characteristics theory. To give students a specific focus for viewing, distribute the worksheet entitled "Questions to Be Answered While Viewing" and direct students to the first question.
BEGIN viewing Program 1:"In the Beginning" at the title frame and STOP at the section that says, "...would trouble paradise."

Focus student attention on the question, "What do you think the narrator meant by Charles Darwin's ideas causing trouble in paradise?" Take five to ten minutes to foster discussion. Answer: Darwin's ideas would argue against creationism, acquired characteristics and the establishment.

Guide students to question 12 on the FOCUS FOR VIEWING worksheet, "Describe in your own words what the vertical moving graphic is representing at the very beginning of Program 2:"Darwin, Naturally".

START TAPE #2 at its title credit and PAUSE after the graphic has rolled by. Have students respond to question 2. ANSWER: Change over time.

Direct students to questions three through six, and tell them to look for the answers to these questions as they watch the next segment.

START TAPE and continue through the segment when dogs run over and old man.

At this point you may wish to stop and assign reading of the Discover Magazine article "Ascent of the Dog." Questions/Answers fro reading may be found at the end of this lesson.

Focus student attention on question seven of the FOCUS FOR VIEWING worksheet, "What is the name of the man who influenced Darwin?" as they view the next segment. ANSWER: Thomas Malthus.

START TAPE and PAUSE at the clip which says elephants breed unchecked, on screen, elephants have their trunk entwined and hearts in the screen's frame.

Direct students to watch the next segment for answering question eight of the FOCUS FOR VIEWING handout, "What keeps animal and plant populations in check?" Answer: struggle for existence and "the struggle between ___________ and _____________ species." Answer: same and different.

RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at the frame which lists the second answer.

Direct students to watch the next segment to answer question nine on the FOCUS FOR VIEWING HANDOUT, "What factors influence species' struggle for survival?" Answer: climate and food

RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at frame showing populations reaching equilibrium.

Direct students to watch the next segment to answer question 10 on the FOCUS FOR VIEWING worksheet,"What principles did Darwin observe?" Answer: Principle I - More organisms reproduce than can survive and Principle II - There is variation. "From these principles Darwin formed his theory of ________________." Answer: natural selection.

RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at the frame showing natural selection.

Focus student attention on question eleven from the handout, "What was Darwin's greatest support for his theory?" Answer: fossils.

RESUME PLAY and PAUSE after the clip showing large skull and the term "fossil evidence."

Focus student attention on question twelve: "What did Charles Lyell offer to support Darwin?" Answer: the Principle of Uniformitarianism.

RESUME PLAY and PAUSE when you see the spider web and signpost that says watching mountain erode. You may wish to discuss this principle a bit with an eye to a review of some earth science.

RESUME PLAY and continue to the end of the tape. STOP.
Remind students that armed with their new-found information they will now assume roles of scientists researching evidence that supports Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Students will work in groups of four and submit one finding from each group.

Each group of four people will appoint a chief investigator, a graphics expert, a researcher and an analysis expert. Al scientists will convene and pool their research before submitting a final product. The chief investigators will keep the laboratory copy he/she receives as the presentation copy. The graphics expert will keep his/her graph paper as the presentation copy. The researcher will be responsible for library/computer research as well as assigning such tasks to group members. The analysis expert will make sure that there is consensus from the group as well as keep all parties on task.

Students will be given the two packets entitled, "Evolutionary Changes in Primates" and "Let's Compare Height and Weight in Our Ancestors". Have the cooperative learning groups come to consensus and submit a final report using the appropriate format for lab reporting. A suggested format is found in the appendix of this lesson.

Write a letter to Charles Darwin. You have studied his perplexity about the prevalence of variety despite natural selection and you should be able to explain to him the parts of his theory that are still strongly used and how modern genetics and biochemistry have resulted in some modifications to his work.

Write a poem involving evolution and have it published in the school newspaper.

Write and perform a short play or skit about Darwin and his discoveries.

Pretend you are a journalist and conduct a question/answer interview with Charles Darwin.

Research your choice of the following men more for a personality profile than for their academic achievements: Bishop Paley, Carolus Lennaeus, Athony van Leewenhoek, Le Compte de Buffon, LaMarck, Thomas Huxley, Charles Lyell. Remembers scientists are people, too!

Create a poster display showing support for the theory of evolution.

Boberg, Dorothy Kurth, Evolution and Reason - Beyond Darwin, North Hollywood, California: Clarion Pacific Publishers, 1993.

Jones, Steve; Martin, Robert; Philbeam, David, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994

Lemonick, Michael D., "How Man Began," Time, Mar 14 94, pp 80-87

Weaver, Kenneth, "The Search for Our Ancestors," National Geographic, vol. 168, No. 5, Nov 85, pp 560-629

Master Teacher: Sandra Latourelle
Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting/Plattsburgh, NY


Humans are really fascinated by humanity. We see ourselves in center stage int he theater of evolution. We are abundant, we occupy every corner of this biosphere and we impact our environment as our ecological appetite becomes more and more voracious.

The study of evolution is not a single science. It requires the application of genetics, morphology, physiology, and behavior. We can probably fee safe to say that most human features and physiology did not evolve in a single step, nor together as one package.

Most biologists believe that all creatures are interrelated and have descended from a common ancestor. The greatest and most adamant proponent of this idea was Charles Darwin. His theory of evolution was set to print in 1859 in "The Origin of the Species."

Darwin's platform "descent with modification' is really quite simple. It has four main tenets:
1. organisms differ from each other in ways that are inherited - there
is variation
2. more are born than can survive - a struggle for existence
3. certain inherited variants increase the chances of their carriers
surviving and reproducing - natural selection
4. selection leads to the accumulation of favored variants, which over
a long period of time produce new forms of life - the origin of the
This theory of evolution tells that we are all living fossils. We preserve within ourselves genes of our ancestors. Darwin used comparative anatomy to support his theory. A triumph of molecular biology has been the uncovering of thousands of other clues of relatedness in our genes.

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