Simple Labeling of a Bird’s Skeleton Compared to a Human

Comparative anatomy is included in most basic biology courses. Students learn the digestive system as they dissect a frog or view models. They learn the skeletal system from human skeleton models in the room. I try to integrate these lessons with larger units exploring different animal groups. The bird skeleton is a great way to learn about the bones and homologous structures.

I have several worksheets, including a bird coloring worksheet that requires students to color code the bones of a bird and human. The coloring worksheet does take a longer block of time than I have this year, so I created a short form that can be completed in 10-15 minutes. This version has a bird skeleton with blanks to label (with a word bank) and a labeled human skeleton.

The class can then discuss which bones are similar and which are different. I usually focus on how the bird’s sternum and pectoral girdle are adapted for flight. Other bones, like the humerus, radius, and ulna are also similar to human bones. We also review evolution when discussing homologous structures. Students can then practice their labeling skills with this quiz.

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