Comparative Anatomy Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan may be used to help students learn about comparative anatomy. Students will learn how scientists evaluate the evolution of animals by examining similarities in anatomical structure.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on comparative anatomy, students will be able to:

  • Ask and answer questions about anatomical structures of animals.
  • Use domain-specific language to discuss the evolution of animals.
  • Differentiate between types of anatomical structures.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


  • analogous
  • ancestor
  • biodiversity
  • comparative anatomy
  • convergent evolution
  • evolution
  • genes
  • homologous
  • inherit
  • vestigial structure


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Computer/printer access
  • Trifold presentation boards
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Individual white boards
  • Dry-erase markers
  • Erasers
  • Fact Cards (prepared, see Homologous, Analogous, or Vestigial Structures Activity)

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary with students before watching the lesson.
  • Watch What is Comparative Anatomy? - Definition & Examples as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • Describe evolution.
    • How do scientists know that evolution happened?
    • Why does evolution happen?
    • What is comparative anatomy?
    • Give some examples of homologous structures.
    • Give some examples of analogous structures.
    • Give some examples of vestigial structures.
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.


Types of Structures

Materials: copies of lesson, paper, pens, markers, tri-fold presentation boards, scissors, glue, construction paper, computer/printer access

  • Divide students into three groups.
  • Assign the group to either homologous, analogous, and vestigial structures.
  • Have each group use the internet to research their assignment to find definitions, examples, and pictures that explain the structure.
  • Student groups display their findings on a presentation board.
  • Student groups explain their findings to the class using vocabulary words as appropriate.

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