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Herps and Humans

One reason people often fear or dislike herps is because they perceive the animals as being very different from themselves. But as this part of the lesson demonstrates, herps and humans are amazingly similar.


  • Identify several internal organs.
  • Describe several similarities and differences between the bodies of herps and humans.



  • Science


1. Begin by asking the students to name some ways herps' bodies are different from those of humans. Make two columns on the board (one for herps and one for humans) and list the students' ideas.
2. Use the background information under Who's a Herp? to add points the students might not think of. Then tell the students that, despite the differences, herps and humans have a lot in common.
3. Have the students complete the Herps and Humans activity (be sure to see the Herps and Humans answer key).
4. After they've completed the activity, have the students look again at the comparative list you made earlier. Are there any additions or changes the students would like to make?

Extend the Activity!

Have the students make "adaptation posters" with lines pointing to special herp features that humans don't have, along with brief explanations of the feature's survival value. (You can assign the students certain herps to work with, or have them choose their own.) For example, a poster of a tree frog could point out the frog's toe pads, along with a sentence explaining how the toe pads help the frog cling to branches high above the forest floor. The poster could also point out the frog's throat sac, moist skin, bright colors, and so on.

Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies