The Science Museum invites you on an 'animal' tour to learn about science
Sep 27, 2012
The Science Museum invites its visitors on an ‘animal’ tour to see the living creatures included in its various displays designed to educate the public about science. Reptiles, insects and even microscopic creatures are all there to give visitors a better understanding of biology, evolution and adaptation to the natural environment.
All kinds of living things can be seen at the Museum, from a weird and wonderful giant egg-shaped cell to microscopic organisms. In 'Welcome to Life' there is a chick incubator where every day, lots of little chicks hatch. The cold-blooded animals can teach us what temperature is. A friendly bearded dragon, who is an expert in camouflage techniques, shows the audience how he remains unseen even to a heat-detecting camera, in the “Red Hot” workshop in Science on Stage. And in the “Micrarium” workshop, also in Science on Stage, one can see microscopic living organisms with incredible shapes whose entire habitat is encompassed in a single drop of water.
If one wants to see great engineering projects, one only has to visit the ants' nest to admire the amazing underground corridors built by the Atta, or leaf-cutter, ants. The display shows a recreation of their habitat, with water terrariums where one can watch the ants on semi-flooded islands that are linked by twigs. In the water itself, there are little fishes and tropical plants.
In the underground passageways, one can see how the ants grow a fungus and all the other subterranean activities of this species of large ant, whose queens measure up to 2.5 cm in length. They have had this relationship with the fungus for 60 million years, so one might say that they are the first farmers in history.
Here we can learn what characterises an insect or what differentiates insects from similar creatures such as termites. In the exhibition entitled "Furnishing the habitat. Han in hand with nature" the visitor will find a real termite’s nest and understand how important these creatures are for maintaining the cycle of life, as they carry bacteria that decompose the cellulose in dead and dying trees.
Animals are the best way to understand evolution and how they adapt to the specific conditions found in their environment. In the Forets of Chromosomes exhibition on the third floor there are fascinating examples of this.
The skulls of giraffes (much larger than one might imagine, given that we always see them at a distance of several metres, at the top of their long, svelte owners), of hippopotami, elephants, tigers and even crocodiles tell us how different types of teeth are adapted to the type of food. The amazing aquatic salamander or ajolote (meaning “water dog”) is another case in point. It’s a very unusual amphibian which has remained in a permanent larval state.
And for the really curious, there is a gallery of curiosities: animals with malformations such as a three-legged hen, a one-eyed dog, a two-bodied lamb. They are all examples of what can happen when a certain gene doesn’t do its job properly.