Find out who you really are and where you come from in our innovative, interactive film about evolution, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
This amazing 50-minute film will involve you in a revealing story of evolution from Earth’s early history using large-screen projection, personal handsets and webcams.
Your personal handset is a window into the past. Take your seat in the studio and use the handset to interact with the film and:
- see extinct creatures and objects from the film moving around the studio and feel their life-like presence, among them are Coelophysis, Homo erectus, and an intricate tree of life
- learn how we are related to these prehistoric creatures, and even to bananas
- take a photo and project it on the screens around the studio
- play with virtual specimens
- take part in activities and challenges like sorting DNA.
This interactive film has been up and running for a couple of years now I think but like everything else in London’s Natural History Museum it is just brilliant and I couldn’t resist a post about it here (even if I am a little late to the party)…
The film runs for about 50 minutes and provides a whistle-stop tour of our evolutionary history suitable for both older children and adults. It covers all sorts of stuff about our ancient ancestry, some of which will be familiar and some of which may seem slightly bizarre, striking an excellent balance between conveying the dramatic twists and turns of human evolution while at the same time demonstrating how we are just one of many fascinating forms of life on earth.
Whatever your current level of knowledge about evolutionary ideas, there is some incredibly interesting and entertaining content provided by numerous museum specialists (in fields ranging from the study of parasitic worms to palaeoanthropology), and the whole thing is narrated by the wonderful David Attenborough. Find out more here.
The Human Connectome
This immense scientific project aims to create a comprehensive map of the all the neural connections in the brain, an undertaking which has been fronted by the Human Connectome Project which is sponsored by the National Institute of Health in the US.
The Human Connectome Project aims to decipher the interactions of neurons and synapses in healthy, living adult humans. Mapping of the brain can be spit into certain scales, ranging from single neurons, to populations of neurons, to cortical areas. It is thought that once sufficient data is gathered we will be able to stitch each level together to form one large, comprehensive map.
With current technology we are currently unable to capture the brain’s activity at the cellular level without using invasive procedures. Mapping the connectome at this level usually requires a post-mortem and thus is not ideal.
At the macro scale which is at the level of clusters of neurons and fibers; recent methods and advances have seen non-invasive mapping emerge rather successfully. At this level functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is used in conjunction with tractography- a procedure used to demonstrate neural tracts. (x)
An accurate diagram of Human Evolution
- by Eduard Olaru
- First row: Paranthropus boisei (KNM-ER 406)
- Second row left: Paranthropus robustus (SK 48)
- Second row right: Homo habilis (STW 53)
- Third row left: Homo rudolfensis (KNM-ER 1470)
- Third row right: Homo georgicus (D2282)
- Fourth row: Homo ergaster (SK 847)
- Fifth row left: Homo floresiensis (LB1)
- Fifth row right: Homo erectus (Sangiran 17)
- Sixth row: Homo heidelbergensis (Atapuerca, Skull 6)
- Seventh row: Homo neanderthalensis (St. Césaire)
Click through for full sequential soft tissue facial reconstruction posters from The Human Kind Lineage Project
Friends often look alike. The tendency of people to forge friendships with people of a similar appearance has been noted since the time of Plato. But now there is research suggesting that, to a striking degree, we tend to pick friends who are genetically similar to us in ways that go beyond superficial features.
For example, you and your friends are likely to share genes associated with the sense of smell.
Our friends are as similar to us genetically as you’d expect fourth cousins to be, according to the study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This means that the number of genetic markers shared by two friends is akin to what would be expected if they had the same great-great-great-grandparents.
"Your friends don’t just resemble you superficially, they resemble you genetically," said Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Yale University and a co-author of the study… (Full article from The Guardian)
In the latest episode of the BBC’s Infinite Monkey Cage, Robin Ince and Brian Cox are joined by comedian Ross Noble and evolutionary psychologists Keith Jensen and Katie Slocombe to discuss whether humans are uniquely unique?