Fossil Primate Museum

Name: ____________________

Class Meeting Time: _________


Fossil Primate Museum



Go to on your device and use the controls to move around. The different controls for different devices are listed on the wall you are facing:

  • Computer web browser: Use the WASD keys to move and drag with the mouse to look around.
  • Smartphone: Press on the screen to move forward. Press with two fingers to move backward. Enable motion controls to tilt your phone to look around. Otherwise, swipe with your finger to look.
  • Virtual Reality: Use thumbsticks to move. Turn your head and body to look around.

Directions for moving around the museum are found in the bold text.


Beginning Tour

Go straight ahead to examine the bronze centerpiece. Touch the orange orb to make info panels appear. Answer these questions:

  1. Which primate is the largest one shown in the centerpiece?


  1. Which primate is the smallest?


  1. Where is the smallest primate in the centerpiece?



VR Grab Lab and Height Chart

Facing the front of the centerpiece, turn right and go into the VR Grab. Go past the two tables (labeled “Artifacts” and “Primate Figures”) and turn the corner to face the back wall that features four tables. We will be working with the far left table, labeled “Early Primate Fossils.” Touch the items to bring up information on the back wall and a magnified view. First, touch the Archicebus model to the far left of the table. Then, answer these questions.

  1. How long ago did Archicebus live?


  1. What was its most likely diet?
  2. Examine the model: Archicebus looks a lot like a mouse, but it definitely has primate traits. What are some primate traits you see on the model?



Now examine the brown partial cranium next to Archicebus. Touch it to bring up its information.

  1. What is the scientific name of this fossil?
  2. Use your reasoning to answer this question: why is this fossil so broken and distorted? To answer, think about how an object becomes a fossil.



We are done with this section. Turn around and walk back to the first room. Go past the centerpiece to the height chart on the wall (the bronze statue should be on your right side). Go up to it and answer this question.

  1. Who was taller: Gigantopithecus or the tallest recorded person?






Scale Model Hall

From the Height Chart, turn right and then turn left under the gibbon to enter the Scale Model Hall. There are a few models of prehistoric primates. Go to the one closest to you, which is on top of a tree branch and facing you. Touch its orb to bring up some information. The name should be familiar because the species represented by this model is closely related to the brown cranium you saw earlier. The model is based on multiple individuals and allows us a look at the full body.

  1. Where were proconsulids found?



  1. Which trait did proconsulids lack that makes them similar to modern apes? If you need a hint, use the gibbon model to compare.


  1. Use your reasoning to answer this question: Proconsulids are only known from fossilized bones and teeth so no one knows exactly what a living one would look like. Which traits must have been inferred to reconstruct what a living Proconsul looked like?

Move past Proconsul further into the hall and look left and up for the next model. It is Notharctus (the primate with the brown body). Touch its orb for info.

  1. Where was this primate discovered and how many years ago did it live?
  2. Which lineage of modern primates does Notharctus resemble the most?


  1. Use your reasoning to answer this question: how could the long tail of this primate be an adaptation?

Keep moving to the next model, a larger primate clinging to a tree trunk. It is Megaladapis. Click its orb for information.

  1. What is this primate’s nickname due to it having similar adaptations as another animal?
  2. Megaladapis existed until the first Homo sapiens arrived and settled its home island of Madagascar. Use your reasoning to answer this question: Why do you think this primate became extinct?
  3. Also use your reasoning here: Which modern primate looks the most like Megaladapis? How did you choose this primate?




Thinking about the exhibits you have seen, put some of the information together by answering the following questions.


  1. Relatively, who lived first, second, and third in time: Proconsul, Archicebus, and Notharctus?


  1. How did Gigantopithecus differ from other prehistoric primates in terms of their preferred environment? (Hint: Think about how the models are posed.)

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