Blog

Evolution of Australian Biota

By: Karen Player, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 12 Jun 2014

The Evolution of Australian Biota study days opened in Sydney this week.

Students experiencing a hands-on fossils session

Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

Now in its 14th year, the Evolution of Australian Biota study days continue to be one of our most popular events booking out year after year. This popular full day program was developed by the Australian Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust and Taronga Zoo. Students examine fossils, specimens, live animals and plants to investigate the evolution and adaptations of Australian animals and plants.

It has been great to see so many schools returning each year. Because the program books out so quickly each year the planning team always looks at way allow more schools to attend. So as the popularity continued to grow extra dates were added and extra venues. This year the program will be delivered to thousands of student across the state at Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Mount Annan, Mount Tomah and Sydney.

This year we have put on more sessions than ever. This is great for schools but exhausting for staff!

Students spend half a day at the Australian Museum and half a day the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. The Biota Study Day comprises four one-hour sessions including:

  • Learning from fossils: a museum educator-led session. Students work in small groups and perform first-hand investigations using fossils and specimens of Australian animals to compare current and extinct forms. Activities focus on Australian megafauna and on platypus evolution.
  • Evolution, survival and extinction: a museum self-guided session. Students gather and analyse information from displays in the Surviving Australia exhibition to examine reasons for the evolution, survival and extinction of Australian fauna and the contribution palaeontology makes to our understanding of past and future environments.
  • Botanic Garden educator-led session. Students investigate native Australian plants, including the forests of Gondwana, living plant fossils, and pollination strategies of some modern species.
  • Zoo educator-led session. The Taronga Zoomobile visits the Garden allowing students to interact with live animals while learning about the adaptations and evolution of native Australian animals including kangaroos and echidnas. The changing ideas of scientists are also considered with reference to the modern Platypus.

If you can't visit the Australian Museum or fit the Evolution of Australian Biota excursion into your school schedule there are still ways to access material on Australia Megafauna and evolution. You could visit our Australia's Extinct Animals webpage for free factsheets and resources or you could borrow our Museum in a Box®.