Reflection of life history in the planet ( The American museum of Natural History)

MUSEUM GUIDE FOR GENERAL BIOLOGY II

Life Diversity, Human Evolution and Ecological Diversity

AIM: To survey life history in the planet, human evolution, our place in nature, the ecology of the natural world, and the biodiversity of its biosphere – as illustrated by the exhibits of the American Museum of Natural History.

PROCEDURE: Make an “expedition” to the Museum located at the Central Park West and 79 street, New York, NY 10024 (Tel 212-769-5100). It can reached by several buses running along the central park west and Columbus Avenue, as well as by subway IND line B or C trains to 81 st. The Museum is open Monday-Sunday 10:00 am-5:45 pm.

Dedicate at least 4 to 5 hours to visit the Museum, any day of the week and explore the exhibits in the following sequence:

-Hall of Biodiversity (First Floor)
-Hall of Primates (Third Floor)
-Hall of Asian Peoples (Second Floor)
-Hall of South American Peoples (Second Floor)
-Hall of North American Forests (First Floor)
-Hall of North American Mammals (First Floor)
-Hall of Ocean Life (First Floor)
-Hall of Birds of the World (Second Floor)
Take notes and pictures from the Museum exhibits that would serve you to better understand biodiversity, human evolution and world ecology.

Introduction

I In a way, humans have “borrowed” most of their biology and much of their behavior from animals. Especially higher animals: the vertebrates. At the same time, there are features that we consider to be uniquely human, such as the use of language and symbols, high intelligence and manufacture of complicated tools and machines, sense of the future, aesthetic appreciation and need to seek answers to questions about meaning. Some of these are closely associated with features of our biological nature: considerably increased brain size, extraordinary natural dexterity facilitated by our opposable fingers, and upright walk related to changes in the muscles and the skeleton. These biological features and uniquely human capacities separate us from our nearest relatives, the higher primates.

As humans approached their evolutionary humanhood, they began to exercise their newly acquired features given rise to the unique cultural evolution, unknown o the earth before. With gradual understanding of how nature functions came the perfection of more sophisticated tools and machines that enabled the evolving humankind to dominate and modify the environment.

Most of the word’s ecology has been dramatically altered by human activities but in some places the original ecosystems can still be observed and studied. At the same time, the major ecological subdivisions of the earth, the biomes, can be identified, even with their modifications by humans.

Summary of the self-guided explorations