Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students explore human evolution by investigating the role that phylogenetic trees play in describing evolutionary relationships. Students will begin by engaging in a class discussion around some of the major developments in human evolution, then work in pairs to create a phylogenetic tree for hominins. Once complete they need to select one group of hominins and create an imaginary Facebook page for an individual from that group.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand the trajectory of hominin development.
  • Students understand how to create a phylogenetic tree.
  • Students develop skills in communicating complex scientific subjects.

21st century skills:

evolution hominin facebook skills

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content description:

Year 10 Science

  • The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185)

Syllabus OutcomesSC5-14LW, SC5-15LW.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution.

Topic: Evolution.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – oversee activity.

Resources required: Human evolution factsheet, Phylogenetic tree human origins, one copy of the Phylogenetic tree factsheet for each pair of students, Facebook page. Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for extension.

Keywords: Evolution, hominin, phylogenetic tree, Facebook.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this lesson students will understand the trajectory of hominin development and will understand how to create a phylogenetic tree.

Teacher content information:

Facts about Human Evolution (

Hot tip: Students can watch the video prior to this activity. However, although we feel it will provide valuable context and information in support of this activity it is not essential to completing this activity.

Prior knowledge: Some knowledge of phylogenetic trees would be an advantage. This activity - Phylogenetic Tree - Flipped Classroom - can be used to build knowledge on this topic. In addition, this fact sheet - Phylogenetic tree factsheet - may be useful.

Teaching sequence

15 minutes - Part A: An overview of hominins
10 minutes - Part B: A phylogenetic tree of human origins
35 minutes - Part C: Facebook page

Work through this resource material in the following sequence:

Preparation (o

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Did we really descend from the apes?

Preparation: Watch this clip prior to this activity.

Facts about Human Evolution (

Part 1. An overview of hominins

Read the Human evolution factsheet and answer the questions below:

Describe the difference between hominids and hominins:

List three hominins and their distinctive features:




How do you think environmental conditions would affect the survival of hominins? Give one example:

Why should scientists be careful about making too many judgments about where Homo rudolfensis fits into the story of human evolution at this time?

In three sentences, construct an argument that could explain how Homo habilis evolved from Australopithecus afarensis:

Part 2. A phylogenetic tree of human origins

Work in pairs to create a phylogenetic tree of the following:

  • Australopithecus afarensis
  • Homo heidelbergensis
  • Homo ergaster
  • Turkana boy
  • Homo neanderthalensis
  • Homo sapiens
- or - to view worksheets

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