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127 Meters of Evolution
February 26, 2010 21:23

Charles Darwin

State Darwin Museum, located in Moscow, prepared a new interactive exhibition, which invites everyone to follow all steps of evolution.

This is the first project of this type in Russia – its authors tried to turn visitors from passive observers into active explorers. The exhibition is a time machine, simple and interesting to visitors of any age. Authors admit that is was a hard work, since a 127-meter-long tunnel concentrates millions of years and all exhibits of Darwin Museum. The tunnel is wide enough to allow physically challenged visitors to learn more about life on our planet. Here is a small voyage to Earth’s evolution for those, who won’t be able to see the exhibition with their own eyes.

The tunnel is densely packed with various information signs and monitors, which look like windows. You can stretch your hand and touch Earth’s history – rocks, which are over 4 billion years old: granite, lava and gneiss. Cyanobacteria, the oldest Earth dwellers, which appeared 3.8 billion years ago and were responsible for atmospheric oxygen, are beside the rocks. Next window shows soft-bodied Precambrian animals, which inhabited our planet 650-570 million years ago. Then you can get acquainted with other animals and find an answer to the question if there was right time for animals to leave water and to get to the ground. If you choose the wrong answer, you will get to evolutional dead-end, because 500 million years ago there wasn’t enough oxygen for animals to leave ancient seas. Plants were the first organisms to inhabit lands.

After several more steps, you will come across a king crab, which appeared 500 million years ago and still lives on our planet, and cooksonia, one of the first terrestrial plants in the world. You can also take part in a quiz, during which you will learn (if you didn’t know that before) when scorpion, dragonfly, myriapod and butterfly appeared. Further steps brought new knowledge and experience – beast-like reptiles, and then dinosaurs appeared. You will learn which dinosaurs lived in which time periods and come across another quiz.



Now time for the Cenozoic era. Fossilized skeletons of dinosaurs cover the floor. Why did they die? Scientists have 4 explanations for these sudden deaths – a giant meteorite, mammals, which ate all dinosaur eggs, flowering plants and changes in relief. The combination of all four factors seems to be the reason.

After grieving over dinosaurs, you will meet eohippus, horse’s ancestor, and proconsul, one of first anthropoid apes. Then you will learn that ancient mammals didn’t look like modern mammals. Ancient pigs were 1.5 meters high, and ancient rhinoceros was the largest terrestrial mammal with up to 8 meters high and weighing 30 tons. However, ancient elephant was much smaller than its descendants. Ancient camels, as high as 3 meters, and ancient hedgehogs, weighing 9 kilograms, would have looked like mutants, if they managed to survive till nowadays.

Further in the tunnel you will meets ancient people of the genus Australopithecus, which lived in Africa 4.2-1.2 million years ago. The tallest of them reached 170-180 centimeters. You can compare your feet with feet of ancient people and answer the question how did they manage to get fire. Look left – there’s a mammoth tooth. Weighing 2-3 kilograms, it had belonged to a 25-ton giant. Meet Neanderthal men, a dead-end of human evolution.

The last stop is 150 thousand years ago – Homo sapiens appeared. Our journey has come to an end.

The exhibition is dedicated to 200 th anniversary of Charles Darwin. Authors promised to add English translations to all information signs.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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