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  • Human Evolution – The Story Of Us

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 27 February 2014

    Ever wanted to meet your ancestor?

    Ever wanted to meet your ancestor?

    On Friday 7th March the Rock Room (1st Floor Corridor, South Wing, UCL) will host a special pop-up exhibition featuring rarely seen objects from UCL’s Biological Anthropology Collection, and in particular their collection of early hominin fossil casts.

    UCL’s Biological Anthropology Collection is held by (unsurprisingly) the Biological Anthropology Section of the Anthropology Department. Biological anthropology focuses on the study of primate ecology and evolution, including the study of human evolution.

    In order to study and teach these subjects the department has built up a wonderful collection of over 2,000 bones, casts of bones and fossils, ancient tools and other types of objects (which I like to think of as ‘misc’). These are stored in the department and heavily used in teaching, helping students to bring the subject (back) to life.

    Cast of the Australopithecus afarensis 'Lucy'.

    Cast of the Australopithecus afarensis ‘Lucy’.

    Humans and chimpanzees last shared a common ancestor approximately 6.5 million years ago. Numerous species of hominins (human ancestors) have existed since then, but Homo sapiens (us) are the only species to still survive. ‘Human Evolution – the story of us’ gives you the chance to come face to face with those ancestors.

    Visitors will be able to meet ‘Lucy’, the famous  Australopithecus afarensis, that lived in Eastern Africa approximately 3 million years ago and Australopithecus boisei, from 2.3 – 1.2 million years ago, renowned for their massive jaws and teeth. It will also feature Neanderthal specimen casts, particularly exciting as recent research has shown that the average European shares 1-4% of their DNA with a Neanderthal.

    Can you pick your ancestor out from this line-up?

    Can you pick your ancestor out
    from this line-up?

    You can also take a look at the types of tools that our ancestors would have used in their daily quest for survival and meet the scientists, whose job it is to use this evidence, to piece together the story of human evolution.

    The exhibition is curated by Gemma Price, PhD student in the department and Curator of the Collection, and Gemma and other evolutionary scientists will be present throughout the day to talk to visitors and discuss the objects on display.

    So come to an extended family reunion, 12-4pm on Friday 7th March, in the Rock Room, 1st Floor Corridor, South Wing (Wilkins Building).

    Nick Booth is a Curator with the Teaching and Research Collections at UCL.

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