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Touring the Hall of Human Origins: A Visitor’s Impressions

By Guven Witteveen

On March 17 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History unveiled the newest addition to their permanent exhibits: the Hall of Human Origins. Since this museum counts 7 million visitors a year (second only to the Louvre in 2009), we can expect lots of people from the US and abroad to weave their way through the innovative displays. I enjoyed my own recent visit to the exhibit, which yielded the below photos. This first panorama displays a timeline, where a giant arrow illuminated with an Earth view points to a simulation game in which players struggle with the many factors that imperil the continuation of human life.

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Spring 2010 AnthroNotes Online + Video Podcast

A new issue of AnthroNotes is now online (download pdf). Managing editor Ann Kaupp notes, “In celebration of the opening of a new Human Origins Hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, the spring issue of AnthroNotes is a special, expanded issue focused entirely on human origins.” It includes articles by Human Origins Program Director Rick Potts, AnthroNotes editor and Smithsonian research associate Alison S. Brooks (GWU),  and Human Origins Program education and outreach specialist Briana Pobiner. Also see the NMNH Dept. of Anthro. webpage for back issues of AnthroNotes and staff video podcasts.

Smithsonian Event on “Understanding Climate’s Influence on Human Evolution”: Free to the Public, 3/31

The Smithsonian is hosting a free public event on March 31, 2010, 1:00-2:30pm in the Baird Auditorium (National Museum of Natural History), on “Understanding Climate’s Influence on Human Evolution.” At the talk, the National Research Council will announce findings from its recent report on this topic. The public is invited to participate in the Q&A that will follow, with Drs. Andrew Cohen (U Arizona), Peter deMenocal (Columbia U), David Feary (NRC), Andrew Hill (Yale U) and Rick Potts (Smithsonian). While you’re there you can also check out the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.

Join an Online Conversation with Smithsonian Anthropology Curator Richard Potts

Skeleton comparison (l-r): Homo erectus, Australopithecus afarensis and Homo neanderthalensis (By Chip Clark, Smithsonian)

Want to participate in a discussion on the Smithsonian‘s new 15,000 sq. ft. David H Koch Hall of Human Origins, which chronicles human evolution over the past 6 million years? The Washington Post has announced that Richard Potts, paleoanthropologist and curator of anthropology, will be online today at 11:00 am ET to take questions and comments about the exhibit.  Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.

See also today’s Washington Post article and photo gallery on the exhibition hall, and the website for the Smithsonian’s Human Origins program.

Attention Educators: NSF Launches New Online Evolution Report

The National Science Foundation has launched a new special report, “Evolution of Evolution: 150 years of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species,” available via an interactive website.  The main site includes a helpful timeline on evolution-related developments in anthropology, as well as other fields. The report’s anthropology page highlights video interviews with Susan Anton (NYU) and Ken Weiss (Penn State U). Click here to view an introductory video from the site, with scientists discussing the impacts of On the Origin of Species.

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