May 24th, 2013 by The Editors
Traditionally exhibitions about the human body are often entirely focused on the physiology. They focus on educating the visitors about the functions of our body and organs. In the Human Animal, the Swedish Museum of Natural History has decided to dig a little deeper. We ask WHY we have all our different organs, thus automatically looking at the human body from an evolutionary point of view.
By comparing us with other animals, the museum aims to show how closely related we are but also to pin point the traits that makes us Homo sapiens. We are both alike and unlike. Humans have, for example, just as many neck vertebrae as a giraffe!
Many intellectual characteristics that have been seen as uniquely human have, in resent research, been found in other animals as well. The ability to plan, collaborate, console, a sense of self, problem solving are all examples of abilities that we share with a lot of different animals.
Our similarities has been observed and studied in ravens, elephants, chimps and many other species. So what do we have in common with these animals? Well, we are all social animals mostly living in larger groups. From an evolutionary point of view this makes sense – to keep a group safe and intact we need to create relationships with each other. Relationships are built with trust, empathy, rules and boundaries.
The Exhibition uses a combination of objects from the museum’s collections but also has plenty of models that can be touched. As well as interactive stations for the visitor to test their strength, ability to jump, hear and smell. They can also compare their results to other animals, like challenging a chimp in a memory game. These are great examples of how we can understand ourselves- our history, our relation to the animal genus and our strengths and weaknesses as humans.
And, whether you like it or not, you will discover that you have a lot in common with pigs and worms!