Build a Primate

Primates is another one of those sections in an introductory biological anthropology that can easily become a long, boring lecture. Instead, I decided to start class with a brief discussion about what makes a primate, and then an activity where students in a group build primates. This is modified from an idea my colleague, Amanda Spriggs, had about students building their own hypothetical primates. The document linked below has a bunch of primate features. Each group gets an envelop with the individual features cut out. I draw a basic primate phylogeny on the board, call out a type of primate, and the student groups have to features onto the basic primate body. This activity worked very well, though I wish I were better with graphics.

Build a Primate Activity

At a student recommendation, I have also put together a living primate diversity worksheet that will help student organize the different groups of primates and their key features. It begins with the basic features of primates, then a place to draw the primate phylogeny, and then the different groups of primates. I find this worksheet less clumsy than the build a primate activity.

Living Primate Worksheet


This one can be done in basically the exact same way as it would be done in person. Put students in Zoom breakout rooms, and have multiple copies of this Build a Primate PPT, each breakout room gets a copy, and students can shift around the features onto the blank primate to match the primate I call out.