Evolution of vertebrates Workshop

Zoo Barcelona

How did biodiversity come about? What evidence do we have for evolution? And how have people historically tried to explain this process? What do recent working hypotheses tell us about this in the modern day? This workshop enables secondary school pupils to build on their knowledge, to debate and present arguments, and do practical work using morphological evidence from direct observation of specially chosen biological materials. Studying the evolutionary process enables students to become aware of the fact that they form part of the animal world and understand the origin and value of biodiversity.

Duration: 2 hours

Start times: 10am - 12pm - 2pm

This activity is aimed at the first and second years of GCSE and A Levels.

The group/class is accompanied by a member of the Zoo’s education team throughout the workshop.

The Evolution of Vertebrates Workshop explains the mechanisms by which populations adapt to environmental conditions.

Introduction to the concepts of species extinction; evidence of the existence and disappearance of species, mutation, natural selection, adaptive convergence and adaptive divergence.  

The group is divided into four sub-groups that look at different taxonomic and morphological aspects, using biological materials.

All pupils end up doing the different exercises.

The group can stay in the Zoo until closing time.


  • Competency in knowledge and interaction with the physical world.
  • Competency in learning to learn.



  • Build on the concepts regarding evidence for evolution.
  • Learn the causes behind the geographical distribution of the cat family.
  • Assimilate the function of different groups of vertebrates’ morphological adaptations.
  • Recognise changes to integuments and reproduction that took place when moving from life in water to life on land.
  • Differentiate the various adaptations found in regard to vertebrate limbs, depending on the type of change in their habitat.
  • Distinguish vertebrates by their skulls: cephalisation.
  • Promote respect for animals through better understanding.


Work in the classroom includes exercises on:

  • Evidence for evolution
  • Emerging from water on to land
  • Adaptations and limbs
  • Carnivores and cephalisation

Tour around the Zoo led by one of the Zoo’s education team (biologist), during which pupils will deepen their understanding of the following:

  • Mechanisms of evolution: examples of natural and artificial selection. Evidence of the existence of evolution among pachyderms (elephants) and odd-toed ungulates (zebras, tapirs, rhinoceroses).
  • Animals’ adaptation to life in water: dolphins, sea lions and penguins.
  • Adaptation to moving around on land: reducing the number of digits (deer), retractable claws (tigers), elongated limbs (black-faced impala), prehensile feet (spider monkey).
  • Primates as our closest relatives: high degree of genetic similarity between great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans) and humans.

Evaluating the learning:

  • Prepare a report on what has been learned about the evolutionary mechanisms of living things following the Evolution of Vertebrates Workshop.
  • Prepare an article on the adaptive strategy of:
  • The human species.
  • The grey rat.
  • The elephant.

Materials: (Please bring writing materials)

  • Workbook, biological materials.

Small groups: €234 (up to 21 pupils). For each additional pupil up to a group size of 25, the price is €8.15/pupil. The tour is free for teachers.

Large groups: €267 (up to 29 pupils). For each additional pupil up to a group size of 30, the price is €8.15/pupil. The tour is free for teachers.

For groups of participants with disabilities and homes with financial difficulties, the cost is €7 per person and their companions are free of charge.



If your school activity with the Education Department takes place during September, December, January or February, you’ll benefit from a 20% discount off the price. In addition, if during these months the activity takes place on a Monday or a Tuesday, the discount will rise to 30%. (*)

 (*) If you book an activity with the Education Department and this promotional offer is applicable but the activity has to be cancelled due to a situation of force majeure, we will endeavour to reschedule it for another time under the same terms and conditions.

Do you want to book?

For do the reservation, fill out the form below and we will contact you.