55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
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Human Odyssey and related programs launch

February 8, 2013

Did you know that humans almost went extinct 90,000 to 70,000 years ago? Or that the 7 billion people on the planet today are virtually identical, genetically speaking? Trace the milestones of our species’ fascinating history in Human Odyssey, a dramatic new addition to Tusher African Hall opening today, Friday, February 8, 2013.

Occupying the west end of the hall, Human Odyssey features interactive displays, detailed fossil casts, and the latest scientific knowledge about the evolution of Homo sapiens—a still-unfolding story that began in Africa 7 million years ago. Highlights include:

Human Odyssey
  • Faces from the past – Examine the skull casts of three early human species, then watch as fleshed-out reconstructions of their faces appear using “Pepper’s Ghost” optical illusion technology.
  • Walking with Lucy – Compare the distinctive gaits of a chimpanzee, Australopithecus afarensis (the species of the famous “Lucy” skeleton), and a modern human.
  • Interactive migration map – Use touchscreen stations to trace our species’ migration from its African origins over the past 70,000 years.
  • Academy research – Learn about the work of noted Academy anthropologist Dr. Zeray Alemseged, whose notable discoveries are “Selam,” an exceptionally well-preserved A. afarensis fossil from 3.3 million years ago, and the earliest evidence to date of tool use and meat-eating by human ancestors.
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    Human Odyssey is generously supported by Pauline and Tom Tusher.

     
    This spring, the Academy will also offer a suite of public programs related to Human Odyssey, including:

    Live African Safari
    Daily at 1:00 pm (February 1 – May 9, 2013)

    Adventure through Africa and explore the amazing biodiversity of its animals and habitats. Included with Academy admission.

    Sahelanthropus tchadensis skull

    Fossil Forensics
    Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 am (February 1 – May 9, 2013)

    In this lab-based program, you will learn about recent discoveries that scientists have made in uncovering the story of “us,” and how they make sense of it all through DNA analysis and modern technology. Included with Academy admission.

    What Makes Us Human?
    Monday – Friday at 11:00 am (February 1 – May 9, 2013)

    Follow the milestones in human evolution—upright walking, tool making, and symbolic thinking—while comparing the adaptations of early humans to our modern bodies. Included with Academy admission.

    Pritzker Lecture: “Lucy” and “Selam” Climbed Trees, So What?
    Dr. Zeray Alemseged, Irvine Chair of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences
    Wednesday, February 13 at 7:00 pm

    Dr. Alemseged will discuss the evidence for climbing behavior in A. afarensis based on new analysis of his own find “Selam,” currently the most complete and earliest skeleton of a juvenile human ancestor. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, free for Academy members. Purchase tickets in advance online, or (415) 379-8000.

    Out of Africa NightLife (ages 21+)
    Thursday, February 28 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm

    Every Thursday night, music, creatures and cocktails come together for NightLife at the Academy. This week, in honor of Human Odyssey, hear from a trio of Academy scientists who conduct fieldwork in Africa, and get an up-close look at magnificent African big cats. Music by the DJs and percussionists of Afrolicious. Tickets are $12, $10 for Academy members. Purchase tickets online, or at the door.


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